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Naked Titans: Photographs of World-Class Athletes in the Buff

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Photo: Francesco Carrozzini (Carmelita Jeter, Sprinter USA Track & Field)

Tomorrow is the opening ceremony of the Olympics in London. Awe-inspiring athletic forms and feats will capture the attention of the world for the next two weeks. Images of Olympic titans will be plentiful and I am looking forward to both the photography and the drama of country-vs-country competition. I’ve had the pleasure of working with many world-class athletes as subjects and the results are always worth the effort. This collection of photos that has been tearing up the internet recently is a stunning example of great athletes and great photos. Here’s range of great shots from great photogs. Martin Schoeller’s photo of paralympic rower Oskana Masters will stop you in your tracks. Click through the tabs above to see some truly spectacular photos of world-class athletes.

To see more photos like take a deep dive in ESPN The Magazine’s feature click here. Kudos there!

Forced Perspective: Reality Bending Photography

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Photo by Steph Goralnick

One of the most powerful things about creating images is the magic of bending reality with a camera. In the middle of a city of steel, a single flower can be framed to create the illusion of nature. No one even knows the surrounding scenery exists. Forced Perspective photography is intriguing: it manipulates human perception with things like size, positioning and scale. Click through the tabs above for some great examples of forced perspective photography.

No fancy equipment needed… just creativity and imagination. With a dash of out-of-the-box thinking it’s possible to create a unique image. An image that first that bewilders and then delights the viewer. Change it up. Surprise yourself.

Evocative Photos of Aging Animals

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One image can be so powerful – able to elicit strong emotions and social awareness in an instant. Consider this project by a photographer who portraits elderly animals with a Hasselblad as a way to cope with her own mother having Alzheimer’s. The photographs she created are profound and heart wrenching, a unique look into aging with subjects we oftentimes overlook. Click through the tabs above to see some of her evocative images.

The photographer’s name is Isa Leshko, and this is what she has to say about the “Elderly Animals” project on her website:

“I am creating these photographs to gain a deeper understanding about what it means to be mortal and to exorcise my fears of aging. I have come to realize that these images are self-portraits, or at the very least, they are manifestations of my fears and hopes about what I will be like when I am old. My intention is to take an honest and unflinching look at old age and I want these images to inspire others to become aware of and to engage with their own attitudes toward aging and mortality.”

Visit Leshko’s website here: and watch the documentary about her project here: Elderly Animals on Vimeo.

All images by Isa Leshko

Overwhelmed? Lean with it

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Photo: Paul Octavious

Im going to let you in on a secret. It’s a crazy week for our crew – a perfect storm of several jobs/productions happening all at once. [Including the upcoming 3-Day cjLIVE Broadcast from Capitol Hill Block Party – Tune in! Starts on Friday at 3pm!] It’s just plain hectic hellish busy. Im sure many of you can relate to the feeling – trying to get it all done with 1000 things coming at you at once. Our team is firing on all cylinders right now, working long hours and slugging it out. When we’re busy to this level, sometimes there is a natural tendency to get collectively stressed. But as a group, we’ve made a very conscious decision to lean with it this week. By leaning with it, we’re keeping the stress low and the smiles high. That’s the idea.

As a visual example of this idea, something to picture in your mind when it gets a bit hectic for you, Chicago photographer Paul Octavious has just released a number of new photos as part of his Lean With It series, where he captures people bending in parallel with steeply angled trees. Click through the tabs above to see some examples of what REALLY ‘leaning with it’ looks like.
Thanks for the inspiration Paul. Check out his website here.

Steampunk meets Entomology in this Beautiful Art Collection

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Steampunk is one of those strangely awesome subcultures that just sprung from obscurity about a decade ago and has been gaining steam (no pun intended) since then. It has an obsessive group of involved parties, of varying degrees of steampunkness. There are those people who just like going to conventions wearing top hats with cogs on them, and then there are those people who live in completely victorian esque houses, with everything surrounding them made of mahogany and brass. It can be a hobby or a lifestyle, but one thing is for sure – steampunk is pretty unique. Click through the tabs above to see examples of this amazing work in the steampunk genre.

For the uninformed, it’s a celebration of what the world would be like if steam power was still the dominating energy source. It is lush with fantasy and scifi overtones, with different “branches” of steampunkiness – post apocalyptic, wild west, Victorian, etc. It is incredibly visually appealing, and thus it has inspired some pretty amazing artwork.

American sculptor Mike Libby has taken this subculture and buzzed away with it – literally. His studio, Insect Lab, makes incredible miniscule steampunk robot insects – real insects lovingly fitted with cogs and gears. Each insect is an amazing and unique piece of art work, selling for ridiculous amounts of money (anywhere from 600-2500 dollars). I really enjoy the duality of nature meets machine: it is beautiful in a pure yet gritty way.

Emerging Talent: The Transformation of Photographer Mark Tucker from Digital to Wet-Plate

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Photo: Mark Tucker (Wet-plate collodion process)

Welcome back to a series of posts I’m calling Emerging Talent – where I’m spotlighting the work of photographers and filmmakers on the rise. Some are shooters that me and my spies will uncover from 500px or Flickr – others might already be shooting campaigns, but in both cases I don’t care about what the “industry” says. This is simply work I like. I get great pleasure out of seeing my peers make great stuff and I enjoy sharing their work. In many cases I draw inspiration from them as well. I hope you’ll join me in all this.

It might seem odd to refer to 53 year-old photographer Mark Tucker as “Emerging Talent.” He he has been a pro photographer for more than twenty years. But after discovering his work and speaking with him, I found that he is re-inventing himself as a fine art photographer – and both transforming and emerging in the process. It was his portraits, full of texture and screaming with real connection, that first caught my eye. When I went to his website I discovered Mark’s experimentation with the wet-plate collodion process. He is producing some incredible photos, er, objects, with this process. No editions, no negatives, one-of-one originals. Click through the tabs above to see some of Mark’s work. Other than the header photo, the first images are examples of his digital work – the later images are some of his wet-plate work.

Mark thought that his story, of re-discovering his passion for the simple act of creating images, might be be helpful for other photographers… who might be “emerging” for the first time.

CJ: Could you give me a little background on your history as a photographer. You’ve been shooting for more than 20 years as a pro – I gather this is not your first rodeo? 

MT: I went to college for photojournalism. I didn’t really fit in with that style in the end, because I kept wanting to light the pictures, and prop them, in a more illustrative style. But that storytelling aspect of PJ will always come in handy. So I’m glad I did that. When I left college, I assisted, and then started doing small editorial jobs for magazines, and then moved toward doing album covers for the music business. I did that for about twenty years. At some point, about the time of the CD and the smaller format, the covers started migrating toward head shots only, and much of the creativity went away. I started working with my rep, Tricia Scott, and she moved me more toward lifestyle advertising. Again, the photojournalism education came in handy, for the honest, real approach applied toward advertising lifestyle. I did that from the mid-1990’s, until about two years ago.

CJ:You are transitioning from commercial to fine art. Can you elaborate on why and how? 

MT: The advertising business is obviously changing, especially in the last few years. Ad concepts seem to be cleared more and more through focus groups, and many times, you end up receiving a PDF with a swiped stock image in place, as a guide. That comp has been through several layers of client approval, so there’s not a lot of room for spontaneous improvising, and for (happy) surprises to happen. Basically, you shoot the comp, and then, if there’s time, you explore other options. But with more shots now crammed into a day, even this gets hard to do. So it began to get a bit frustrating to work within that system.

Another part of it for me is the age thing. I began to really look around me, after years of shooting other people’s ideas, and ask myself, “What do I have to say about the world?” Part of these last couple of years has been that — testing; exploring; shooting for myself, and trying new things.
Also, the whole conversion to digital meant that I wasn’t creating anything tangible — I’d shoot the job on Raw; process and retouch the file; then deliver the file via FTP. The whole thing was electronic — start to finish. I began missing the old wet darkroom, and the act of creating a physical, tangible object in the form of a print. I wanted something to hold; something to touch; something to bleach and tone and abuse.

CJ: Tell me about your creative process? Both with some of the portraits you shot digitally and the new work with wet-plate processing. Parallels? 

MT: I always shot Hasselblad and Fuji 680 in the old days. I liked that large viewfinder. Now, I’ve found this Pentax 645D, and it’s presently my only digital camera. It’s somewhat strange looking, and it can’t tether, (which I love), and you have to find the lenses used, but I’m in love with the large viewfinder, and the way it feels like a film camera. It’s as close to a Hasselblad 203 as I’ll find in digital. I just have one body and three lenses; that’s all I need. I just put it on 2.8 and I go find interesting faces.

Also, a few months ago, I started taking workshops and learning the wet-plate collodion process. Although I’m very early into the process, it’s incredibly rewarding. I mix my own chemistry, coat my own metal plates, and process right on the spot. One day when I was working for a gallery show, I started trying to make even larger plates, and I started building this homemade camera in my basement out of 1x4s and black plastic from Home Depot. I mounted this old 1860’s era brass lens on the front of the homemade camera, and started shooting large collodion plates that are 24″x28″. It is so exciting to watch that image come up in the fixer tray. I found these giant trays at Home Depot that are used as emergency overflow trays, for underneath your washing machine. These hold the large plates perfectly. When framed, these large plates look really great on the wall. And the interesting part is that, since there’s no negative, that plate is regarded more like a painting — it’s a 1/1, with no editions possible. Obviously, you could copy the plate and make editions, but at that point, the prints would just be a standard C-Print from a lab. They wouldn’t have that special quality of being on metal.

CJ: You have mentioned that you feel like you’re “doubling back” as a photographer? 

MT: I never really got into the business to make money — I just wanted to make nice images. So it was that search and passion for a great face, or a great scene, that always pushed me forward. As time went by, the business itself forces some compromises — in the old days, you had to have your own studio; you had to have your own gear, (unless you lived in a real city. I live in Nashville; it’s not really a real city, with rentals and support). So for me, I looked up one day, and I was an adult, (without really even wanting to be), with responsibilities and overhead. And as much as I’d like to say that it doesn’t change you, it just does. So what I’m trying to do now is shed a lot of that overhead, and shed a lot of that pressure to keep doing commercial work every week. I want to take this time in my life to really experiment again — just like I did in college — and simply work for the image only, and see where that takes me. I guess, after thirty years in the business, I’ve paid my dues, so maybe I can take some time now to really push myself to create more personal images, without the constraints of client needs. That’s what the big camera is all about, and that’s what the wet-plate process is all about. Just to sink into the process of creating images. Pure and simple.

CJ: Any words of wisdom for those who are just getting their start – or those who are simply but in a creative rut?

MT: I know it’s been said many times, but “follow the passion” has always worked for me. The words are simply true. I just find that, if you really believe in what you’re doing, it naturally provides the kind of motivation to keep you experimenting and testing, even on the weekends. I just let the passion carry me along. I firmly believe if you follow that, the money will follow. I’m already getting calls for my wet-plate work, even in commercial areas, so I feel that, if the spirit is there, the paycheck will somehow find its way into the equation. I also think small sabbaticals of experimentation are healthy too — taking workshops, purposely trying new gear and techniques, and even traveling. It keeps your head clean and fresh.

Of course, these are crazy times in the commercial world, but I feel if you can find that one thing that you can really put your thumbprint on, and separate yourself from every other 5D out there, and then advertise it properly, the clients and the work and the creativity will find you. Of course you need balance in life — you have to be there for yourself and family, to be paying the rent, and mowing the yard, but at the same time, you always have your eye peeled for that one thing that will be your specialty. I think more than ever now, it’s important to specialize, and find one look, so that you create a memory in clients’ minds — so ask yourself if your style/approach could be summed up, by a client, in one sentence. Imagine them sitting around a conference table and they say your name, and the AD says, “Oh yeah, he’s that guy that shoots ______ with that certain look”.


For another look at some wet-plate work check out my blog post on “Photos as Physical Objects,” from a few weeks ago.

Fear & Loathing in Art & Business

Dollar Sign - 1981

Why do artists loathe business? Why does business fear art? Each side holding the other back for no good reason. Conventional thinking declares that real art is “pure” and free of commercial motivations – that business corrupts art. Conversely, business minds often seem to fear art because it’s perceived lack of a road map for mathematical “ROI.”

Total bs. The next time someone suggests that business has no place in art – or someone tells you that its a good idea to have a “backup” for your creative vision of making a living – recall the example of the most successful businessman in the history of art: Andy Warhol.

He famously said, “Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art.” Warhol’s business was reportedly worth $700 Mil by the time of his death in 1987.

Warhol got his start selling product illustrations to advertisers and department stores. He was really good at it and achieved a high level of commercial success before he became a pop art icon by bending linear thoughts of consumerism into an artistic pretzel. He intentionally blurred the line between commerce and art. He was never afraid of business – he actually saw it as part of his art. And to that end – his art has proven to be very good business. In fact, according to the Economist his work accounted for 17% of all auction sales in 2010 for $313m. This was a 229% increase over 2009 sales and proved his art to be recession proof in a big way. The market for Warhol’s art has outperformed the Dow Jones growth in the past 25 years – by a long shot.

So is it a coincidence that the most successful businessman in the history of art actually saw the business itself as part of the art? Would he be surprised by this continued success and ROI for his collectors? Certainly not.

This post was inspired by Seth Godin’s blog post here via @goodchemist

Photos of Amazing Street Art

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Some Friday fun to inspire your weekend: Reinvent the mundane.

Im always impressed with how street artists can transform mundane objects into a fertile canvas. Visually rearranging everyday spaces that seem to serve a single function (like a crosswalk or drain), and remixing with an ingenuity that knocks function on its ass. This reinvention of a seemingly innocuous wall, either in a highly economical manner or with painstaking precision and effort, tilts our perspective. Surprise and delight indeed. Click through the above tabs to see some brilliant examples of what these talented artists can do.

To see a boatload more check out Next Web Design’s post here.
(All images via Next Web Design.)

Legendary Rock ‘n’ Roll Photos

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Photo: Jim Marshall

I like this Jim Marshall quote: “I worked hard but I never really considered it work. I always enjoyed myself and only took an assignment if I had complete control and access. My reputation was such that managers didn’t f*ck with me. I had the trust of the artist. I would work with them and they knew I wouldn’t f*ck around or do anything they didn’t like.” What a badass. Click through the tabs above to see some photos from this legendary photographer.

Marshall passed on in 2010, but his work lives on: a spectacular collection of his photos opens today at New York’s Steven Kasher Gallery. His pictures demonstrate intimate access with a roster of game-changing artists ranging from jazz greats like Miles Davis, to folk legends like Bob Dylan and larger than life rock ‘n’ roll stars such as Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix.

The guy owned his art with a fierceness that we can all aspire to. Extreme? Perhaps. But it’s that attitude that won the trust of his subjects and made these incredible images possible. Most of these shots are not staged. Trust is the most valuable currency when working with your subjects – especially fellow artists. I have experienced this in my own work with my Songs For Eating and Drinking project. No crowd, no managers, just artists at a table sharing good food and music.

It’s only rock’n’roll – but I like it.

(via Flavorwire)

Shepard Fairey Installs 100-foot Mural

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Shepard Fairey has a new installation in London’s Pleasure Gardens. The 10-story mural is part of the London Pleasure Garden’s vision of emulating the 17th and 19th Century tradition of ‘communal spaces where people from all walks of life converged to listen to music, admire paintings, stroll, drink, flirt and immerse themselves in the culture.’ As the world’s attention turns to London for the 2012 Olympic Games (July 27-Aug 12) the longtime cultural capital of the world is hot showcase for these convergences of art, music, sport and media attention.

Head into your weekend with a quote from Fairey: “Art [and creativity] is really undervalued as a means of evolving culture. The more that [street art] is encouraged and there is a space that incubates it the better. As an artist, I always felt that museums and galleries were just too narrow a venue for my art – and art in general. The best art works like music, where music, when you really like it, you listen to the melody and the beat and then you pay attention to the lyrics and what the message is. It becomes a whole feeling and an idea bundled in one – visual art should work the same way.”

Powerful Wildfire Photos from Colorado

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Photo: Helen H. Richardson

Summer-time wildfires are a fact of life in the dry climates of the Rocky Mountain state.

However, the conditions in Colorado this summer have brought record breaking wildfires. There are currently three major fires burning at once. The High Park, Waldo Canyon and Flagstaff fires have consumed, by some estimates, over 100,000 acres and close to 600 homes. Devastating.

The photography coming out of Colorado is powerful. From the captured emotions of people watching their homes burn, to tired firefighters, to apocalyptic-like skies – it is reminiscent of a war zone. The photography is honest and eery. Click through some of the tabs above to view some of the photos curated from the hundreds floating around on the internet.

Our thoughts go out to the people of Colorado, especially the Colorado Springs and Fort Collins area who have lost homes in these fires. For more information on how to help those effected click HERE

60-Second Video Portrait of the Debonaire Mike Relm

Here’s another 60 Second Portrait, starring Mike Relm this time. I shot this after our recent episode of chasejarvisLIVE. If you dig it, check out the rest of my 60 Second Portraits here.

Photos as Physical Art Objects — They’re Not Going Away

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Photo: Michael Shindler

On Tuesday my post on backing up your digital data elicited hundreds of responses online. Many of you had a good quip on a time-tested methodology on how to back up your most treasured memories: print them.

What a concept – the photo as an object. As our culture ebbs and, largely FLOWS to just some bits and bytes on a hardrive or server somewhere, an actual physical photo unmistakably elevates in value because of scarcity. I love art as artifact – it’s so damn meta.

Click through the tabs above to see some stylish examples of a very physical photography: tintype photos.

Tintypes (as you might guess based on the ‘tin’) are images that are exposed directly onto a stainless ferrotype plate. As physical as it gets. To see a behind-the-scenes video (via our friends at Cool Hunting) on how these were made at the Photobooth studio in the Mission District of San Francisco click HERE.

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