Behind the Scenes

Favorite Photographers

I like the following photographers for different reasons. Some I like because I like their work. Some for who they are as a person. Some for their availability and generosity to the photography community. Some for any combination of the above.

Antonin Kratochvil

Antonin Kratochvil is probably the favorite photographer of mine who’s influenced my work, and the way I approach it the most.
He is one of the founding members of VII, one of the world’s most distinguished documentary photography agencies.  He's an award winning photographer who's covered conflicts as well as worked on commercial campaigns.
I’ve liked Antonin Kratochvil and his work for as long as I can remember being interested in photography. His raw images, the way he constructs and deconstructs them, his composition … to me they are unlike any other. Some images, it seems there is not one thing in focus. Very unique!
I met Antonin at a workshop he taught in Brooklyn in 2007, and had a chance to see who he was like in person. His no-BS persona, say-it-as-it-is attitude was to me just as appealing as his work.

Here are some of my favorite images of his. 

Photo ©Antonin Kratochvil

Photo ©Antonin Kratochvil

Photo ©Antonin Kratochvil

Photo ©Antonin Kratochvil

Photo ©Antonin Kratochvil

Photo ©Antonin Kratochvil

Photo ©Antonin Kratochvil

Photo ©Antonin Kratochvil

Eugene Richards

Eugene Richards is a photographer, writer, filmmaker.
For decades, he’s worked on documenting the American family, his first wife’s battle with cancer, social issues drug addiction, poverty, racial tensions.
I love his intimate, personal, up-close images. A lot of times, looking at his photographs I’m thinking to myself, “Man, that took balls to be so close and photograph!" 

Photo ©Eugene Richards

Photo ©Eugene Richards

Photo ©Eugene Richards

Photo ©Eugene Richards

Photo ©Eugene Richards

Photo ©Eugene Richards

Photo ©Eugene Richards

Photo ©Eugene Richards

Photo ©Eugene Richards

Photo ©Eugene Richards

Jeremy Cowart

Jeremy Coward has a pretty cool story how he became a photographer, and how he got to where he is. He got rejected, he was told he had no talent. Now he is one of the most influential photographers in America.
He also founded Help Portrait, an organization making portraits of people in local communities who otherwise may never have their pictures taken. He is also a founder of See University, an online platform where he teaches what he’s learned throughout his career. 

Photo ©Jeremy Cowart

Photo ©Jeremy Cowart

Photo ©Jeremy Cowart

Photo ©Jeremy Cowart

Photo ©Jeremy Cowart

Photo ©Jeremy Cowart

Photo ©Jeremy Cowart

Photo ©Jeremy Cowart

Joe McNally

Joe McNally is seen as one of the most versatile photographers today. He’s worked for clients such as National Geographic, Sports Illustrated, TIME, Newsweek, Fortune, New York, The New York Times Sunday Magazine.
Shortly after 9/11, Joe made Faces of Ground Zero – Portraits of the Heroes of September 11th, a collection of 246 large portraits shot in the Moby c Studio near Ground Zero. A book made of these images helped raise over $2 million for the 9/11-relief effort.
To me, Joe McNally is a master painter painting with light who is able to transform any scene in front of him into a beautiful image. And he shares his craft and skill with other on his blog. His blog is a big source of inspiration and knowledge for me.

Photo ©Joe McNally

Photo ©Joe McNally

Photo ©Joe McNally

Photo ©Joe McNally

Photo ©Joe McNally

Photo ©Joe McNally

Martin Schoeller

Marting Schoeller is portrait photographer know primarily for his hyper-detailed close-ups, big head portraits styled and made all in a similar way. 
I love people, I like being with people, getting to know them, and to me that means being close to them. I also believe that the closer you are the better the images.

Photo ©Martin Schoeller

Photo ©Martin Schoeller

Photo ©Martin Schoeller

Photo ©Martin Schoeller

Photo ©Martin Schoeller

Photo ©Martin Schoeller

Richard Avedon

Richard Avedon was a fashion and portrait photographer who created work for numerous magazines as well as worked on commercial campaigns. He also created portraits of celebrities, politicians as well as ordinary people.
I fell in love with his work when I stumbled upon his In The American West, a book featuring portraits of drifters, miners, cowboys, housewives and others made in state fair rodeos, carnivals, coal mines, oil fields, slaughter houses and prisons throughout the western US. I love the simplicity yet depth of the way the portraits were made, the vulnerability of the subjects portrayed. According to some, In The Americas West is the best body of work Avedon created.

Photo ©Richard Avedon

Photo ©Richard Avedon

Photo ©Richard Avedon

Photo ©Richard Avedon

Photo ©Richard Avedon

Photo ©Richard Avedon

The Process - Inspiration by Jeff Konczal

Photographer Jeff Konczal

Photographer Jeff Konczal

My friend, photographer Jeff Konczal shares what is behind one of his recent photographs. One of Jeff's jobs is making portraits of leaders in the community - CEOs, public figures, etc. - and recently he photographed Chrissie Brodigan.

Here's Jeff:

I wanted to write about where I find inspiration for portraits. 

Once I know the name of the person I am scheduled to photograph, I begin with a Google search to find out a bit about who they are and what they do.  I can usually find some detail from that simple Google search that I can begin building a loose idea of what I might try to achieve from a portrait.  

For the portrait of Chrissie Brodigan, a researcher who has worked with Github, Mozilla, and Meetup, I looked around her blog and quickly realized she works with data. My initial thought was to try to convey something about how she works with data in a visual way. For the portrait, I used a sparkly foam board and set my flashes to bounce off it. The results were different. Random colors of light shot back at her face or onto the wall, and other times it was just white light reflected back. During the portrait session, Chrissie mentioned that the sparkle board I was using had the same sparkle pattern as a sticker she had on her laptop, and that she loved sparkles (I don't know if she said she loved sparkles, but she seemed pretty excited). It was a little bit of luck that the same pattern I was using to reflect my light was also a sticker she has on her laptop, but that made me feel that I had found some thread of who she is, outside of the whole (different points of light = data) thing.

This is where I found my inspiration for this portrait. Other times, it can come from a completely different direction, but I still always start with a bit of Google research.

Chrissie Brodigan (©Jeff Konczal)

Chrissie Brodigan (©Jeff Konczal)

Chrissie Brodigan (©Jeff Konczal)

Chrissie Brodigan (©Jeff Konczal)

The Process - Inspiration by Jeremy Slagle

Jeremy Slagle, founder of Slagle Design

Jeremy Slagle, founder of Slagle Design

As promised, I asked a couple of people - artists, creatives - to share what their creative process looks like. And today my friend Jeremy Slagle  lets us have a look into where he draws his inspiration, and what he does with it.

Jeremy is an award winning designer and the founder of Slagle Design. In the opinion of many he is a master of his craft and the best designer in Columbus. He tells us about inspiration behind the Luna Burger brand and packaging.

Here's Jeremy:

For me, inspiration comes from many different places. As a designer approaching a new project, I do my best to remove any pre-conceived ideas before I have had a chance to do a “deep-dive” into the client's unique situation. Who are they? Why do they exist? Who are they talking to and why should they care? Who else occupies their space in the market?

For Luna Burger, as with all of my food clients, we hold our first creative meeting in a grocery store, typically Whole Foods. My first source of inspiration is my client. Why did they decide to leave their career to start a veggie burger company? Does the world really need another veggie burger? If so, why? I find that most of these answers come from the people who have done the hard work: the client. In Luna Burger’s case, the owners are passionate about a plant-based vegan diet. They saw how their diet had a radically positive impact on their health and lifestyle. They simply wanted to take their knowledge and expertise and share it with the world. 

Luna Burger didn’t set out to create another veggie burger. They created THE veggie burger, made only from plant-based ingredients. While other companies were doing their best to make a product that looked and tasted like a hamburger, Luna set out to reset the standard. It’s a veggie burger that is supposed to taste like the ingredients, not mask them with fake flavors.

With this in mind, we created a package that stood out among the competition in the frozen food section. While others showed photoshopped images of meat-like burgers on their packaging, we decided to focus on the ingredients. My partner and strategist on the project came up with the idea: “What if we literally show a kaleidoscope of the key ingredients on the box?” It was a brilliant move. 

Because of the inspiration given by my client’s passion, my strategist’s insight, and finding the “whitespace” in the market, we were able to create an effective and inspiring brand and packaging that brought the entire project together into an aisle-stopping brand presence.

Kick Start Luna Burger (© Slagle Design)

Kick Start Luna Burger (© Slagle Design)

Luna Burger t-shirt (© Slagle Design)

Luna Burger t-shirt (© Slagle Design)

The Process - Inspiration

Often, I get asked what inspires me or how I made an image, or why I made it a certain way. So I thought I’d talk about the creative process, and I broke it down to three parts - Inspiration, The Making of an Image, After Creating. I have also asked a couple of friends to share with me in the future posts how they create, and what inspires them.

Inspiration for me is not that hard to find in almost anything my surroundings. I get inspired by new things, and by old things long unseen. I find inspiration in listening to songs, reading a book, or a magazine or a newspaper. I'm preparing a project inspired by a book written by professor and gerontologist Karl Pillemer about the lessons of life the elderly have learned throughout their many years. And as everything in the world has already been photographed, I also draw inspiration from other photographers and their work.

I did a series of portraits inspired by Richard Avedon’s In The American West. Currently, I'm working on an ongoing project inspired by portrait photographer Howard Schatz, and I'm getting ready to start working on another series of portraits inspired by another photographer.

Once I have an idea that I know I’m going to be working on, I begin to create in my mind the image - they say that if you can imagine it, you can create it. It is at this point that I am pre-visualizing the image - tone and contrast (this is where lighting - the amount, positioning, etc. - comes in), composition, cropping, I am considering the lens I will use, where I will stand, where the subject will be to bring into reality the picture I see in my mind.

The image below of my nephew Mitch was inspired by a portrait of a lion I ran across on Facebook. It was a black-and-white image, and I loved the contrast in the photo, the lion's intense gaze, his full, thick mane. I just needed to find the right person to photograph, since I didn't know any lions. When we visited family for New Years, I knew I wanted to use Mitch for this image once I saw that he had grown his hair, and its thickness and length reminded me of the lion's mane. And just as a lion enjoys affectionate fellowship with the members of his pride, Mitch values the closeness of his family.

Mitch.jpg