Monday, December 28, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
As of December 14, 428 titles have ceased publication in 2009. In 2008, 613 print magazines closed down, compared to 643 in 2007. That may be good news for the print media, but bad news for forests... Actually, there are worse things for forests, like the beef we eat in our hamburgers. The Amazon jungle loses thousands of acres daily to the cattle industry.
Are we running out of magazines and that´s why less of them are closing down? What the story doesn't reveal is the percentage of closures.
Condé Nast Portfolio was one of the magazines to close down in 2009, but Borders in Santa Barbara still had it in the stand as of two weeks ago. For a second, I thought it had been relaunched, before I noticed it was the May 2009 issue. After seven months they hadn't sold the last copy!
Ryan's thoughts on photography are moving:
"When I tried to achieve success and recognition, they eluded me. When I let go of these objectives and worked from a place of compassion and purpose, looking for excellence rather than the results of it, everything arrived on its own, including fulfillment."
"Focus on what´s dignified, courageous and beautiful."
"Sometimes I felt that photographs told a better story than a sensationalist documentary."
Monday, December 7, 2009
Carlos and I went Northwest again for a number of stories. I shared the preliminary portraits in this blog (here). Now you can see Carlos's story, published online by El Mundo here. John is another sweet and thoughtful man. It was really a pleasure meeting him in Seattle and then again at the Bioneers conference. John is a proponent of a 30-hour workweek and happier lives. The people of the US work more than any others in the world: 137 more hours than the Japanese, per year, and 499 more hours than the Germans. According the de Graaf, only four countries in the world don't recognize the right to a paid vacation: Burma, Nepal, the Guyanas and the USA. And only five don't defend the right to maternity leave: Lesotho, Swaziland, Liberia, Papua New Guinea and the USA. Food for thought. You can nib on more of these ideas at the Take Back Your Time website.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Porn is something that we prefer to pretend that it doesn't exist. It intrigues me. When I had the opportunity to be part of a story on the business of pornography, I asked to be assigned to the story. It turned out to be a rather mundane conversation with Steven Hirsch, Vivid Entertainment Co-Founder, who was named the King of Porn in 2005 by Fortune magazine. It was rather boring. That´s how it works with photojournalism, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Nevertheless, I thought the portraits turned out good. Pablo Pardo did an interesting story for El Mundo here.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Ramón put me in touch with many others, including Judy Goldhaft and Peter Berg, directors of Planet Drum, and founding members of the Diggers (website here). They introduced me to another founding Digger, Vicki Pollack, who later would found the Children’s Book Project, donating thousands of books to poor children who otherwise don´t have books at home.
Vicki´s best friend was Lenore Kandel, an amazing poet known mostly for The Love Book, which was banned for being too sexually explicit. Lenore kindly received Carlos Fresneda, my editor, and me in her humble San Francisco apartment and recited some of her poetry. I had the most magical time of my life, listening to Lenore. She had the presence of God.
Lenore passed on October 18. My love goes to all who are missing her, especially to Vicki, who took such good care of her, after Lenore´s back was hurt in a motorbike accident. You can read the obituary Carlos wrote in Spanish for El Mundo here. Or you can read one written by Julian Guthrie, in English, for the San Francisco Chronicle here.
To honor Lenore and to relive our brief time together, I'm preparing a multimedia presentation to project at her memorial. I will include the audio I recorded in May of 2007, and photos from her life. If you have photos, film or audio of Lenore, please do contact me to be part of this project.
Thank you Lenore for being who you are.
Friday, November 27, 2009
I've really enjoyed this time of new exploration. My perspective on the auto industry has shifted completely. I drove the Nissan Leaf for Quatro Rodas magazine in Brazil (gallery here). And I photographed the Nissan 370Z Convertible (gallery here) and the Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport (gallery here) for Auto Bild Sportscars in Germany. The electric Leaf represents the future of the automobile, when people will have solar panels on the roof of their homes to power their car. Getting solar panels is easier thanks to Pace. You can read about it in my Chinese column in AutoTao.com.
I foresee a day in which sports cars will become what Harley-Davidson motorbikes are to most Americans, toys to go out on the weekend, or to dream about while you look at pictures in magazines. Our daily drivers will be fuel efficient cars, like the Leaf. Having said this, enjoy the pictures.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Incidentally, the famous crosswalk photograph was taken by Iain Macmillan, with only 10 minutes for the session. It´s usually the quick photo shoots that turn out most remarkable. Macmillan died in 2006 of lung cancer at the age of 67 (read obituary at The Guardian here).
My friend and great photographer Coco Van Oppens, told me that the man in the background of Iain´s image was her math teacher. Coco, who has an imdb page (here) is doing great work in South Africa. Check out her page here, where she features a beautiful photo essay of an EcoTherapy program for victims of war.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Another produce, excuse me, product of my visit to New York is a photo essay of the Famers' Market at Union Square, including a profile on John Gorzynski, who has been selling produce here for the last thirty years. Carlos Fresneda wrote a magnificent piece, in Spanish, here, illustrated with two of my photos. More information about John Gorzynski and Sue Onery's farm here.
Friday, November 20, 2009
While in New York, I photographed Julián Zugazagoitia, Director and CEO of El Museo del Barrio. If you have a chance to visit, you will enjoy the thoughtful exhibits. The story by Julio Valdeón with two of my photos was published in El Mundo (here).
I was very moved by a painting that Frida Kahlo made for the mother of Dorothy Hale, for the anniversary of the suicide of her daughter: El Suicidio de Dorothy Hale, 1939. Dorothy jumped off her apartment building in New York after throwing a party for all her friends, in which she announced she was leaving town for a while. Her husband had passed away not long before. Dorothy's mom didn't accept the present, understandably so, and the oil painting (on masonite with frame) is now part of the collection of the Phoenix Art Museum, who loaned it to New York temporarily.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
If you haven't watched Sylvia, you must see one of these two videos, with Stephen Colbert (search for her on ColbertNation), or speaking at TED (search for her at ted.com).
Friday, November 13, 2009
Reverend Billy invited us to watch a rehearsal for the choir of the Church of Life After Shopping the next day (website here). I would have liked to see the performance a few days later, but I was already back in Santa Barbara.
Since the last time I wrote, Yo Dona in Spain published my portrait of Annie Leonard, author of the story of stuff, and Integral (also from Spain, well Catalunya) published the portrait I took of Lester Brown during my visit to Washington, DC.
I will post some of these photos here, shortly, and others in the next version of the online portfolio here.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Seriously, this picture is just a teaser for the play I'm writing in collaboration with 6-8th grade children at OAS. I had the tremendous pleasure of working on my first play, The Bridge to Nowhere, when my older son was in second grade. Now I get to "play" with my younger son, who is in sixth grade. More to come.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
As soon as Mr. Brown arrived at the Philips Exeter Academy library (New Hampshire), where we were to interview and photograph him, he cordially allowed photographs and video taken of him, by the Spanish and Argentinian media there. I went down on my knees to take a photo, and when Dan looked my way, I couldn't help but lower my head in submission.
here (in Spanish), for he agreed to pose for me, if only for an instant, on his way out for the lunch break. We were to meet at the entrance of the library, but when I saw him taking the stairs, I followed (after all, I'm fond of stairs, and I had taken them on the way up to the sixth floor). There I saw the opportunity for THE photo. "Could you please hold it and look up my way?" That was it! The result was published in the printed edition of El Mundo, alongside a profile photo taken during the interview, both of which you can see here.
Dan was so kind that I had to run and buy The Lost Symbol, his latest novel. When I later asked him to sign it for a friend, I was sure to point out that I bought it at a small Exeter bookshop, thus supporting not only him, but his local economy. "Thanks, I can put gas in my car now," was his answer.
Thank you, Dan, you're a true sport.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
From Washington DC, I went to Washington State, and after a trip to San Francisco's Bay Area for Bioneers, now I'm writing from Washington Square, New York City.
I also had a quick stint in Exeter, New Hampshire, where I photographed author Dan Brown.
You can see more of my coverage in New York in El Mundo's new portal for the Americas. I took some photos of El Museo del Barrio. You can see one here.
Monday, October 12, 2009
If you read my previous posts, you know about my meetings in DC, and my flight with Richard Bach. During our time in Washington, we also met with writers John deGraaf (founder of Take Back Your Time), Gordon Hempton (sound tracker and defendent of silent spaces) and Paul Stamets (mycologist and founder of Fungi Perfecti).
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Charles H. Townsend, Condé Nast’s chief executive, said to Stephanie Clifford, of the NYT, "that the current advertising picture was too dismal. “The tide’s not coming back in,” he said. “It could take us five years to get back to 2007 levels if we’re lucky enough to.”"
Cookie, Elegant Bride and Modern Bride will also be closing. In total, 180 people will probably lose their jobs. The titles will probably continue their presence on the Internet, but Condé Nast is not betting on display advertising for revenue, according to the NYT story.
WARNING: Other than the one dollar I've made from Google Ads over the last few years and have yet not collected, I'm not taking any money from advertisers. If any of you want to sponsor any of my blogs, I'll be happy to point out that you sponsor my blog.
“Those Are My Wings”
Above the clouds with Richard Bach.
©2009 Isaac Hernández, Orcas Island, Washington, USA.
“Flying is something that you learn in a minute and a half and you spend the rest of your life perfecting,” says Richard Bach, as I tighten by harness cradled in the back seat of his loyal Husky A-1B aircraft. “If you want, you can fly it,” he surprises me.
After a quick lesson on how the control lever works, and checking that everything is in order and that “the engine is happy”, Richard directs the hydroplane against the wind and soon we’re lifting, Orcas Island under our feet turning into a silhouette against the blue Pacific.
The metaphor of Jon Seagull becomes reality inside my bones. My teacher is not a “talking seagull”, but the writer that gave life to the book that he had carried inside him.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
Photos: ©2009 Isaac Hernández, all rights reserved.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Monday, September 7, 2009
Do you want to sell magazines? Be creative. That's what the American Society of Magazine Editors is doing, by making their annual Best Cover of the Year contest open to the public at Amazon (here) and offering subscriptions in the process. The year is not over yet, you may say... but we better sell magazines while we can. :) Even if you don't need $10,000 extra cash in your pocket, it's delightful to see the great covers.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Is this the future of publishing? Once electronic magazines feel like paper magazines, will people be willing to pay for a subscription as they do for the paper counterparts? In this case, will editorial groups pay more for electronic rights?
Better in Japanese:
I've been dreaming about this technology for many years. Sony is making my dreams real.
Thank you AP for consulting with the family. Did anybody consult the families of the victims of 9/11 before the videos of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center towers were shown over and over? Yes, it was important to see. But did we have to see them so many times? Did we get warnings about the "explicit images" before they were shown?
Perhaps the reason is that the 9/11 images were building a case for a war against an invisible enemy. And Jacobson's image shows the reality of that war. God save us, this photo may shift our priorities and have our country demand the end of illegal wars and torture; and we may even ask to have money taken out of the obscene military budget and used for the education and health care of our children. Wait, we asked for that already.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates wrote to The Associated Press: “Why your organization would purposefully defy the family’s wishes knowing full well that it will lead to yet more anguish is beyond me. Your lack of compassion and common sense in choosing to put this image of their maimed and stricken child on the front page of multiple American newspapers is appalling. The issue here is not law, policy or constitutional right — but judgment and common decency.”
Mr. Gates, I applaud our military for their self-less service to our country, and I question our willingness to readily go to war. Excuse me if I borrow your words for my response to you: “Why your organization (my government) would purposefully defy the family’s wishes (millions of Americans marching against the invasion of Iraq) knowing full well that it will lead to yet more anguish (tens of thousands of civilian and military deaths) is beyond me. Your lack of compassion and common sense in choosing (to put our children at risk of being maimed and stricken) is appalling. The issue here is not law, policy or constitutional right — but judgment and common decency.”
Thank you soldiers for defending my freedom of speech. I'm sorry some of you had to die for it. Come home soon. Your families and loved ones miss you.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Two newly posted items a the Canon site. The first Canon post talks extensively about the new auto focus features. What an improvement compared to my first digital camera, the Canon D60, which had an out-of focus system! The AF in the 60D wasn't that great either. This 18 megapixel camera is an improvement over the 50D, but the 60D name was taken already, so they went to 7D, rather than 70D. The price is supposed to be $1,699, according to PDN, and it will be available in September.
Some AF highlights are:
I was asked by a fan to write about archiving and sharpening, and whether sharpening comes last in the process, and if there's a different workflow for print or web photos. If you're nor archiving your photos, it's never too late to start, but do it now! Here are some tips. Feel free to write with more questions.
There are several good books on photographic workflow. The most famous is perhaps The DAM book, by Peter Krogh, DAM as in Digital Asset Management. It was my introduction to dealing with tens of thousands of images, and of great help, although I found some of the steps overly complicated. I recommend checking other people's systems and then developing your own.
The first step in a workflow system is to decide which software you're going to use. I find Adobe Lightroom ($299) to work for me, as a professional photographer. Apple Aperture ($199) is another professional choice (only for Mac), which has some advantages when it comes to sharing your work, with a better email and layout interface.
Krogh liked iView Media Pro, so I used it before it was bought by Microsoft and turned into Microsoft Expression Media. I haven't tried their last version yet. I don't know if it's even available. When I try to "buy it", I got lost in the Microsoft web labyrinth. Now Krogh recommends Adobe Bridge (part of the Creative Suite), but I prefer Lightroom, except when archiving CMYK files (for which I use my old iView Media Pro). Lightroom doesn't like CMYK files (Note to self, tell Adobe to make Lightroom see CMYK files, even if it couldn't modify them).
When it comes to Lightroom, I like Michael Clark's workflow guide, ($24.95 as an eBook). It covers everything from how to set up your camera for best results, to the printing process, and yes, sharpening, which, comes last. When you sharpen you want to save your file as a copy, because it degrades the image, even as it improves it. You are basically increasing the contrast in the edges of the photo, losing information.
That's the beauty of Lightroom and Aperture, you can toy around with your images, improving contrast, doing sepia tones or whathaveyou, without losing the original image. Everything is saved as an additional ones and zeros while preserving your master file.
Unfortunately, workflow is more than just playing around with fancy filters, it requires the discipline of copying the files to the right directory, making back-up copies, renaming files in a way that avoids confustion, rating the images so that you can easily search for your best work, adding keywords to the images again to make it easier to actually use your images, and exporting them to a final file (which Krogh calls a "derivative"), from which you will make a print or post
it on the web. Think of your master file as the negative, which you work on and process, and of the derivative as the print.
The difference in flow for web or print comes only at the end, when you export the file, choosing one size or another. Each size will require a different level of sharpening. Luckily, Lightroom and Aperture make that last step very easy, with pre-configured levels of sharpening, which works for the most part. For more sharpening control, you would want to go to Adobe Photoshop.
There's so much to learn about taking care of our archives, that one could have a blog just on this subject. It's good to start organizing those files now, before we are inundated and so overwhelmed that we wish that a fire would just take everything away.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Have you ever heard that Theater (Theatre) is dead? Natasha Tsakos doesn't think so. She loves theater and is making sure kids love it too. Check out her TED 15 minute presentation and performance, in which she mixes science and art.
"We're not here to question the possible, we're here to challenge the impossible. In the science of today, we become artists, in the art of today, we become scientists. We design our world, we invent possibility. We teach, touch and move. It's now that we can use the diversity of our talent to create intelligent, meaningful and extraordinary work. It's now." -Natasha Tsakos.
Photography is dead? Think again.
PS. Incidentally, I'm starting to collaborate on a play with my son's 5th-6th grade class. More to follow.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Helena Hernandez and Nancy Black put together a beautiful eBook, Difference Makers: Environmental Portraits by Isaac Hernandez, featuring the photographs I was lucky to take with some amazing people, from Amy Tan to Wavy Gravy. The eBook is available for free at IsaacHernandez.com.
Following the example of other photographers, and using my experience in filmmaking, I created a multimedia presentation with photographs I took of one of the Difference Makers. I dedicate it to Wavy, and my friend Lisa Law, who just completed a full documentary on Wavy, Saint Misbehavin': The Wavy Gravy Movie.
The sound is a bit rough, since it was recorded for the purpose of transcribing the interview for print (please receive my apologies), but well worth listening. The full interview and photographs are available for publication.
I will be putting together more of these videos, featuring Isabel Allende, Michael Pollan, Tan, etc.
Enjoy, and please comment.
"When I look at an environment where there’s absolutely too much information, information becomes valueless," says Mayes in the interview. "What everyone is suffering from is that a photograph is just more information. It becomes very hard to put a price on it because there are too many pictures out there, but if you suddenly start rethinking it and saying, “We’re not selling photographs, what we’re selling is believability,” then actually we have more value than we had before. VII offers a benchmark, which now has increased value because of all the information that’s out there."
Kenneth Jarecke thinks that true grit is what will distinguish the new photojournalists, in an essay comparing photojournalists to cowboys, featured in the New York Times. "The photojournalism field is too competitive to enjoy success without giving it everything you’ve got," says Jarecke. "The highest level is filled with people who don’t have a backup plan. If they had, they would have already used it.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
I hope all the magazine editors of the world are listening. Celebrity stories are not the only thing that sells magazines. Real stories sell magazines.
It's sad to see great stories not get published because magazines are afraid that they don't sell ads. Rob Haggart explains it best in his A Photo Editor blog, speaking of a story by Matt Mendelsohn, about Lindsay, who lost all four limbs fresh out of fashion school and now teaches fashion at Virginia Commonwealth University. He was moved to photograph her, even without an assignment, and couldn't get it published in print. Sportsshooter published it online here.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Mo McFadden contacted me to be the official photographer for Boxtales' Om, an Indian Play of Good and Evil, to show at The Lobero October 1-4.
I worked on some photos for the poster, together with director Michael Andrews and the rest of the crew. The costumes by Kira Jones and masks by Timo Beckwith will take your breath away.
We had a fun time at the first photo shoot. At this point I cannot show you any more than this picture, for you to get a taste, to dip your toes in the Ganges water of this wonderful production.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
"So far in his “Seeing Money” column, Doug Menuez has covered several important topics for starting a photo business: getting loans, managing your expenses, and staying on top of Accounts Payable and Receivables (see his blog for more on cash flow and “must pays”). Here he explains why being “busy” is not the same thing as being profitable — and how to figure out which one you are."
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Cover creation from Peter Belanger on Vimeo.
I guess there's still a market for professional photographers to make covers. Not all the covers have to be $30 iStock photos. That's what Time magazine paid for a cover photo made by Robert Lam, who didn't even get credit (he was happy about it, regardless). The irony is that the cover was illustrating the New Frugality, or perhaps Time was trying to make a point. I say Time was successful. And the fact that they paid so little has generated hoopla. I'm not going to go into detail about this, as many others have already. Some photographers are upset. I found this explanation by King Kaufman the most balanced.
Like Kaufman says, Time got what they paid for. Macworld got what they paid for, plus a beautiful time lapse video of the process of making a cover, from photographer Peter Berlanger. I bet the editors of Macworld are extremely happy about this video, and the cover. It's called taking care of your client. The video shows the process of photography, post-production and graphic design, with beautiful music by The Brokenmusicbox (who donated the use of the song, but did get credit and a link to their MySpace site). Find more information on the Macworld site.
So what kind of photographer are you going to be? The one that competes with iStockPhoto or the one that goes the extra mile with value added service?
©2009 Isaac Hernandez
Monday, August 17, 2009
I love Photo District News. Yet, I love to disagree with an article in their August 2009 issue, which unfortunately you cannot read unless you're a subscriber to the website, or have the print magazine. But you can see the video/slide show (for free) featured in the story, at Soul of Athens, a website produced by students at Ohio University’s School of Visual Communication and E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.
The story in question is titled "A Lesson in Observation vs. Action," signed by David Walker, senior editor at PDN. I quote the introduction: "Photographer Rachel Mummey struggles with her obligation to maintain a journalist's distance while documenting the unplanned pregnancy and abuse of a vulnerable 18-year-old."
I don't get the "lesson". I read the story twice and I still found no moral. Is Mr. Walker's point that we have to be unbiased photojournalists and not intervene in what we document?
In Walker's story Mummey says of her 18-year-old subject, Caeshel Sue Rae Allen, "she thought I was nice and polite to her. She said I wasn't just taking pictures, I was talking to her and trying to help her through it. I guess this is what I had trouble with. I saw things that I thought that were wrong that no one should have to put up with. And it was really hard to create that boundary."
When Caeshel got pregnant by her boyfriend Mark, Mummey offered to document her life during the following nine months. At one point, she was pretty certain that Caeshel was being beaten by her boyfriend. And Caeshel had the words "Property of Mark Anthony Butcher" tattooed on the nape of her neck. "But," Walker writes, "as a journalist, she didn't want to interfere with the story by calling the police to intervene."
The moment one breathes, there's intervention. If you have a camera, you influence people to do things they wouldn't if it wasn't for the camera being there. Isn't Susan Sontag's On Photography required reading at the graduate program of Ohio University, where Rachel studies?
Sontag quotes Diane Arbus on pages 41-42 of the book: "the camera is a kind of passport that annihilates moral boundaries and social inhibitions, freeing the photographer from any responsibilities towards the people photographed. The whole point of photographing people is that you're not intervening in their lives, only visiting them."
It's as if we're having the same conversation from when I went to photography school 20 years ago: If you know a monk is going to set himself on fire, do you not show up to try to stop him, or do you take a Pullitzer Prize winning photo? At what point do you give up on the story? When do you stop being a journalist, and tell the woman you're photographing that she'd be better off not having the baby from a boyfriend that hits her?
As we all become journalists with our blogs and photographers with our cellphones, at what point do we intervene, even if it means not getting the story/video/photo?
Don't get me wrong. I believe in ethics in journalism. There are photographers who have intentionally changed the course of an event, or even "photoshopped" a photograph in order to make the story. I don't agree with that behavior. But I also believe in ethics in humanity. Sometimes you have to follow your heart, stop being a journalist and just be a human being.
©2009 Isaac Hernandez
Apply now to be a TED Fellow at the 2010 TED conference, February 9-13, 2010, in Long Beach, California. If you don't know about TED Talks, it's time you do.
TED Fellows attend without charge and participate in a two-day pre-conference where they can present a short talk or video, attend elite skills-building courses taught by world experts, and share social opportunities and surprise extras.
The TED Fellows program is accepting fellowship applications through Sept. 25, 2009. TED Fellows may apply themselves or be nominated by another person. Follow this link to apply. To nominate a candidate, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The talks from TED and EG get posted online, many of them with subtitles to many languages. And there are plenty of talks about photography. Twenty-one, as of today.
©2009 Isaac Hernandez
But you don't have to go farther than your own home or win contests to make a difference. Sometimes all it takes is photographing a friend and her horse. And you know you made one person happy. That's what I did today. :)
©2009 Isaac Hernandez