Archive: June 2013

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Originally from California, Matt Rainwaters moved to Austin 6 years ago to start his career in photography.  From landscapes to reportage, Matt strives to create honest work and talks with ILTP about his recent  experiences photographing in Haiti and Guatemala.

Tell us a little about your background.  How did you get started?  
I’m from the San Fernando Valley, just North of LA.  Photography for me started around age 14 when I bought a video camera– I used to make skate videos with my friends.  Now everyone has a video camera on their phone, but back then it was rare for someone to have their own camera, so I just fell into the role of photographer for my friends. When I wasn’t filming skate boarding, I was filming punk rock. It wasn’t until I was 18 that I bought my first still camera.

When I wasn’t filming skate boarding, I was filming punk rock

Then when I was 21 I left a job working in this crazy special effects shop – a pretty unique job making monsters for horror movies and art films- to go to Brooks.  I focused on black and white printing and landscapes, and I did everything I could to avoid photographing people. My degree is actually in industrial and scientific photography. When I graduated, I was showing black and white landscapes in galleries all over California, but you don’t make much money doing that, so I took a job teaching high school photography.

My buddy Adam Voorhes told me there was lots of opportunity in Austin, so I moved and it’s just kind of worked out from there

After three years, I got concerned I’d never have a professional photography career if I was still teaching, so I quit my job one day in the middle of a teachers meeting.  Then my buddy Adam Voorhes told me there was lots of opportunity in Austin, so I moved and it’s just kind of worked out from there. That was about 6 years ago. Being from California, do you think you need to go to a big city, like LA,to get started?  Did that help you being from there?
Being from LA didn’t really help me.  It’s really about your work and vision.  I moved here with a landscape portfolio and three years of teaching experience now I shoot more portraits than landscapes. 

Who are you influenced or inspired by?
I saw the Richard Avedon documentary, “Darkness and Light,” and the way he dealt with subjects was revolutionary to me.  He could talk to his subjects and direct the entire shoot without them realizing it. It’s a rare skill to be able to disarm people in front of the camera and get an honest photograph. Avedon was a real master at that.

Renee Cervantes is an influence as well. We met in school and have been close friends since.  He’s a phenomenal photographer based in NYC. Renee and I have a similar work style that involves minimal gear, and we talk shop about that kind of thing.

Lou Mora is another influence. Lou amazes me with his natural light photos. He’s been especially inspirational lately as I’m trying to move away from using artificial light and am shooting more natural looking photos.

Lastly, Nadav Kander, is very influential. Nadav can shoot anything and make it look good.

 [Keith Carter] said, “Above all else, always be honest with your work” And that stuck.

How would you describe your visual style?
I think your style is always changing. For me, I want consistently honest work.  I’m not forcing the subject or coaxing them to do something they don’t want to.  I did a phone interview with Keith Carter when I was a student, and at the end I asked if he had any advice for an aspiring photographer.  Keith said, “ Above all else, always be honest with your work” and that stuck. 

I don’t do a lot of conceptual photography because I don’t think it would be honest coming from me; I’d rather just show a person as they are. 

You obviously shoot people now…
I knew if I wanted to make it as an editorial and commercial photographer, I’d need to photograph people.  So I spent a few months before moving to Austin photographing some of my students to build my portfolio.  After moving, I got a break shooting with Austin Monthly and the first thing they had me do was shoot a fashion spread – the last thing that I am is a fashion photographer. I just made it as landscape-y as possible, where the girl was smaller in the frame.

Then I started getting a lot of the assignments that took a reportage twist – a lot of prison and disaster stories… and that stuff takes a mental toll on you.  Right now I’m trying to focus back on lifestyle images, music and punk rock – like Fun Fun Fun Fest and SXSW – to return to the inspiration where it all started.

 It’s a great job where you get to travel, meet people and see new things.  Even though you’re in Guatemala and think you’re going to die…

Most memorable photo shoot?
The most recent one:  I was working for the New Republic on a story about Guatemalan Bus Drivers, which is considered one of the most dangerous jobs in the world right now, ahead of industrial logging and deep-sea fishing.  And it’s not because they’re flipping buses off the sides of cliffs – even though  they’re doing that too.

They’re being extorted by MS13 and M18 – the most notorious gangs to come out of Southern California after a huge deportation in the mid-90s. Now the gangs have incredibly sophisticated crime syndicates and their income comes from extortion.  We spent a few days with a bus driver  who was being extorted by one gang and hunted down by another for almost killing one of their members.

At one point our bus broke down and we were in the neighborhood where he beat that guy up who’s trying to hunt him down.  We’re on this bus like sitting ducks, in a neighborhood that we’re not suppose to be in, and I’m photographing him with a huge medium format camera trying not to be obvious.  I really thought we were going to die there a few times.

Haiti was rough too.  I spent 9 days in a hospital without running water for the Texas Medical Association with doctors giving aid to patients post-earthquake.  No one talked about how there’s this overwhelming need for aid in Haiti, beyond the earthquake.

We were outside Port Au Prince by 4 hours, but the infrastructure is just so rough, it’s difficult for them to bring people to the hospital.  So we were helping the local people, but they don’t have basic things like soap.  I saw two horribly infected legs that had to be amputated with handsaws because they just don’t have soap to clean the wounds.

The work is hard for me to look at so I took it down from my site about a year ago. That’s bad stuff, but there’s good stuff too. Overall, it’s a great job where you get to travel, meet people and see new things.  Even though you’re in Guatemala and think you’re going to die, it’s an amazing experience and something most people don’t get to have.  It definetely grounds you.

What’s your favorite thing about shooting in Texas?
The people are really unique; there’s so many interesting stories coming out of Texas.  In California, the really great thing is the landscape – you’ve got the coast, snow in the mountains, and a beautiful desert – you have that same kind of diversity here in Texas, but with the people.

How do you spend your free time?
I grew up skating, and just started doing that again.  I’m also raising a baby and that takes up a lot of time, but she’s a little cutie so it’s worth it.

Do you have a dream assignment?
I feel pretty lucky; I get a nice mix.  I’ve done a good job of not getting pigeonholed, so I still get a range of studio assignments, environmental portraits and travel jobs.  I get a good mix of travel and adventure, doing work that I’m interested in, plus some fluffy stuff that helps pay the bills.

Your book ‘Beard’ started as a personal project.  What was it like getting it published into a book?
The “Beardfolio” project went viral really fast; then over a year later, a friend of mine, Will Bryant, told me to pitch it to an editor at Chronicle Books.  I did, and then two-weeks later, they said they liked it and wanted to print it as a book.  Publishing a book is not a super profitable endeavor, but it’s really fun.  It’s also great marketing piece and really fulfilling to be able to walk into a bookstore and say, “I did that.”

You’re bearded now, but have you always had a beard?
I didn’t always have a beard but I kind of feel like I had to be a bearded ambassador after printing the book. One of the guys in the book said, you can’t really know your face without seeing it with a beard.  I just prefer the way I look with a beard now.  And my wife likes it, so that makes her a keeper.

Best career decision so far?
The faith to invest time and money in personal projects and using those to promote your work instead of tear sheets.

It’s really about your work and vision.

So just like you asked Keith Carter, do you have any advice for a young, aspiring photographers?

You really have to enjoy what you shoot.  That’s kind of a no-brainer.  Make sure you love photography before you decide to dedicate your life to it… because that’s what you have to do to make a career out of it.  And be honest with your work… Keith said it best so it’s worth repeating.


Favorite Taco:  I love tacos! I can talk passionately about tacos, maybe more so than photography.  In Austin, best taco joint, world-class, one of my top three favorite anywhere, is Piedras Negras, but we lovingly call it “Not Dos Hermanos,” because the trailer is on the foundation of a leveled Mexican restaurant named Dos Hermanos… the sign is even still there.

Favorite BBQ:   Kreutz Market’s ribs.  I love that its dry rub… it’s truly an art to make BBQ that good without sauce.

Favorite Beverage:  Beer: Hops and Grain’s Pale Dog  Coffee: Non fat latte from Jo’s on South Congress  Water: Whole Foods’ brand sparkling mineral water in the giant green bottle

Favorite Texas Weekend getaway spot:  My backyard… cruise over we’ll smoke ribs and play Bocce

Dallas-based photographer, Steven Visneau has some new video work. Below, Visneau describes the video.

VOD S/S 2013 from steven visneau on Vimeo.

“I shot the previous season’s fashion video for V.O.D. Boutique in Dallas. We put together our own team of an art director, stylist , model and hair. We went out and shot the video on the streets of East Dallas (the Cedars).

There is a horse in the video and using a horse in any video is always a challenge as it tends to have a mind of its own. This horse was no different. The challenge of keeping the horse calm and looking natural while reacting to the camera was done perfectly by our model Mkayla.

The team worked together better than any team I have ever been involved with

The concept for the video was all my wife, Christine Visneau. She wanted high fashion in the Hood. Got that! The team worked together better than any team I have ever been involved with. The soundtrack to the video ties it all up. Kirby Brown who wrote and performed the song is a good friend of mine. I asked for something gritty yet sentimental, again, got that!

We are having a launch party at V.O.D Boutique on June 27th. Kirby will be performing and we will also be celebrating the launch of my friend and fave photog Allison V. Smith’s latest zine.

tPoster

ILTP print shop artist, Joel Salcido, has a beautiful new traveling exhibit, Aliento A Tequila.

Who: Joel Salcido

What: Aliento A Tequila

When: Show opening is June 28 – July 14

Where: Show opens in Marfa, Texas

For complete list of locations and more details click here.

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ILTP intern extraordinaire, Conor Mack, recently spoke with Robert Bradshaw of Photogroup. Photogroup is a rental studio located in Austin that focuses on providing an environment for photographers to work  along with fostering community for its members.

CM: To start, tell me a little bit about Photogroup
I always loved teaching at the Brooks Institute, and we had wonderful career services and job placement opportunities. But because I was an emerging photographer myself at one point, I knew the struggle of the transition that occurs post-graduation.

Being that my background is in teaching, I wanted to help people segue into the industry by offering them an affordable, professional place to practice studio photography.

CM: Right, Photogroup feels very nurturing.
Being that my background is in teaching, I wanted to help people segue into the industry by offering them an affordable, professional place to practice studio photography. If you visit the Photogroup website, you will see that you can use the studio space however you want, and that we have student only prices or you can split a membership.

CM: What brought you to Austin?
The main reason for my move to Austin was to be closer to family. I moved to Santa Barbara in 2000 to attend graduate school; right before my graduation Brooks Institute asked me to stay and teach. I stayed with Brooks and taught for twelve years. Brooks was awesome and that made it a very tough place to leave. However, at some point you want to break away from what’s comfortable, and I thought if you have a goal why not go after it. I also wanted to see if the studio rental model would work in Austin.

Austin has so many places for students to learn about photography: Austin Community College, Art Institute, Saint Edwards, Texas State…. there’s a large pool of photographers that are going to stay in the area and need a space like Photogroup. Our studio is located in south Austin, which I love. With the studio being close to South Congress and South Lamar, there are so many creatives nearby. On South Congress in particular you have all the creative events and art openings, so I think it is a great location for us.

CM: I’ve read your staff consists of all Brooks alumni. True?
When I first launched Photogroup, my staff consisted completely of my former students from Brooks. Now we have employees from Texas State, Saint Edwards, and the Art Institute, and someone who is well established in the industry. So, we have anywhere from 7 and 10 staff members. It’s a great staff of humble and knowledgeable people.

CM: Also, I see you are expanding the space.
It is a 1,400 square foot expansion, which will bring us to almost 4,000 square feet total, so when we are done there will be 6 studios. We can mathematically take on 100 members but that’s not the goal. We would really like for photographers to have the space to themselves if needed. That is why we are expanding. Also, we wanted to create room for the cyclorama; they are great and not many of our members have used them before, so I want to offer that service to them

We can mathematically take on 100 members but that’s not the goal. We would really like for photographers to have the space to themselves if needed.

CM: In the end, how do you want people view and utilize the space and resources?
This is primarily a place for the emerging photographer to come and get some guidance. The idea of the camera club is important to me. This is a boarding room of working professionals that don’t have an ego when they are working together. They have questions and hopefully we can provide or find answers.

I get calls all the time from photographers asking questions such as how to price their work, and I will give candid advice such as on how to charge a usage fee as well as a creative fee. There are too many Craigslist photographers who go, “I don’t know what to charge and 500 bucks seems like a lot.” So they will take a full day to do the shoot and they don’t realize you have to go through editing, adjustments, and back and forth with the client. You take that 500 dollars and divide it by the actual time you put into the shoot and you got paid very little. And changing that mentality is really exciting, and I mean this in a very positive way.

CM: It seems like a productive community!
You don’t just sign up, you go through a screening process. You fill out the membership form and we call you in. I want to sit down with you, meet our members, meet our staff. This is for us to know you are serious. We require a 3 month minimum and you can split the membership any way you want. We really aren’t out to get your money. What we want to do is make it so you are an established looking professional. When the client calls, you can say, “yes I can do this,” and you can bring them over here. Also, when its time to give the client an invoice, it’s not sitting at your coffee table or sitting in Starbucks or sitting in your garage.

One of our first members, Karen Bruett, would shoot her portrait work at Photogroup’s studio. Karen would also meet her clients at Photogroup to present her images and invoices. After the client would leave, Karen would say, “Robert, I’ve never had the client be completely question-free about pricing after the shoot.” And she goes “most people are like 1000-1200 bucks is a lot. But when your sitting in an environment where you know what you are doing, people don’t think that the shoot is overpriced, they see that they got full service.”

This is primarily a place for the emerging photographer to come and get some guidance. The idea of the camera club is important to me.

CM: When you take yourself seriously, people will take you seriously.
Exactly that. And another thing that is really great about being part of Photogroup is that when our phone rings and we put our members to work. I don’t take every job that comes in, so I screen jobs or pass them on to Photogroup members. We have people shooting events, we’ve got fashion stuff. It’s really great that we have a network of people that we feel confidant saying “yup, I got a person that does that, yup she does video editing, yup he shoots video.” Also, if you’re a member and that phone rings and we put you on a job, its zero commission. You’re already a member you’re supporting us as being one. So I think that’s a great thing. If we keep you working, you’re still supporting Photogroup.

 


Visit Photogroup Austin online by clicking here and in person at 321 W. Ben White Blvd., Suite 106A, Austin, TX 78704

Jonathan Zizzo ©

Jonathan Zizzo, a Dallas based photographer recently photographed a story for FD Luxe about restoration of vintage Ferraris in Gainesville, Texas.

Jonathan Zizzo ©

Jonathan Zizzo ©

Photo by Tania Quintanilla for San Antonio Magazine

For new Austin talent, Graham Cumberbatch, styling is more about exploring cultural identities than finding the perfect pair of shoes.  Influenced by his family, especially his father’s style, he’s long been aware of the importance of how you present yourself to the world.

Graham is an Austin native but fresh from a degree in Semiotics from Brown University and an internship at GQ in New York City where he contributed to the art department and also wrote for the GQ blog. He has so many interests and talents that he hasn’t yet figured out which one will define him, but for the moment, a chance encounter with former Austin Monthly stylist Brandy Joy Smith, has steered him into the Texas fashion scene.

I recently sat down with Graham for tacos on Austin’s east side to reminisce on the pains of hauling shoot props across Manhattan and Dallas vs. Austin style.

Austin’s style is a reaction or opposition to Dallas, it’s anti-fashion.

You studied Modern Culture and Media at Brown University – describe the coursework and how that plays into what you are doing today as a stylist? 
The department used to be called Semiotics. It’s a cross-disciplinary field that covers literary theory, visual art, film theory and production and social philosophy. It’s all about the way knowledge is produced. It’s about signs and visual language and how the way in which they’re coded and decoded impacts how humans relate to each other.

It has a lot to do with how I approach styling. Our sartorial choices have a lot to do with how people define us. What we wear is a visual language we use to either connect with other people or set ourselves apart. I like to tell stories with style, communicate notions of place and people and explore cultural identities. I’m inspired by film references, literary themes and ethnic histories. Fashion isn’t generally considered to be very intellectual, but I think when you view things through the historical relevance of style, there’s a conceptual depth that’s possible when you collaborate with the right people.

My favorite photographers to work with are the ones that treat the stylist and other artists on set as equal creative partners and allow them express themselves.

What are some of the most important elements in a photographer-stylist relationship?
I think ideally, you first need to come to a common understanding of what makes a great image. That means finding a common language because everyone brings their own perspective on what that means. Collaboration is essentially about getting on the same page creatively, then letting the other person do what they do best. My favorite photographers to work with are the ones that treat the stylist and the other artists on set as equal creative partners and allow them express themselves.

 Who are some of your favorite Texas photographers to work with and why?
I’ve done a lot of work with Tania Quintanilla of  TQPhoto. We met through Brandy Smith. She has a great eye and an old-school beauty-oriented approach to fashion photography that’s hard to find these days. Her images always look refined and classically beautiful. Sometimes I think she makes my work look better than it really is. I also really like working with Wynn Myers. Of course, y’all know her here at I Love Texas Photo. We actually went to high school together at St. Stephens in Austin. Her stuff is really pretty. She has her own style–very naturalistic, great use of natural light, lots of emphasis on the elements. It’s fun to match my styling with her approach.

Photo by Tania Quintanilla for San Antonio Magazine

Tell us about your mentor, Brandy, and how you got into styling.
I met Brandy through my sister. They met on the set of an ad shoot Brandy was styling. We became fast friends and I ended up assisting her on a shoot for Austin Monthly by chance. I’d never done any styling but I helped with the guys’ looks and I liked it. I assisted her several more times and when she moved to NYC, she recommended me to Austin Monthly, one of her longtime clients. I made my pitch and started doing their monthly style spreads for the next eight months. It was a great experience–kind of just thrown into the fire, learning everything on the job. But Brandy’s been the mentor–always available to answer questions about the biz and give advice. She’s actually helped launch several people’s careers in styling. She’s a very giving person, never competitive, even willing to assist me when I’m in a jam. The industry can get a little hectic for a freelancer, we all need someone like Brandy in our corner.

Graham has a distinct style in his work–he understands proportion and color and he’s great at combining street with high style. -Tammy Theis/Wallflower management

You recently signed with Wallflower Management, tell us about that and how it has changed your work.
I just signed with Wallflower a few weeks ago, so it’s still pretty new. I really wanted to break into the field in Dallas. It’s a bigger market, Texas’ original fashion capital, with more commercial clients and a wider range of retail options. I think Wallflower will help broaden my opportunities. When we met, they really understood my aesthetic and were willing to invest in marketing me to a wider audience.

What are some of your favorite places to shoot in Texas?
Austin! I think Austin is a great place to shoot. But central Texas in general is beautiful. Growing up here you don’t appreciate it as much until you leave. The landscape here is really like nowhere else. I’m actually headed out to West Texas next week and I’m sure that’ll be equally gorgeous. I’ve been out to the Davis Mountains area before but never to places like Marfa and Alpine. I’m excited. I’m a big fan of the desert.

Photo by Wynn Myers

What are some of the benefits of styling in Texas?
It’s really easy to meet and connect with people professionally. There are very few jaded attitudes around because the fashion arena is so new here. Everyone really just wants to meet new people and collaborate as much as possible. There’s a lot of space to be creative without worrying about too much establishment red tape.

Favorite places to shop and pull clothing in Texas?
I love working with the folks at ByGeorge. They’re my high-fashion go-to. Sometimes you just need some Celine and there is only one place to get it. For menswear, Service is always great. It’s really well curated, relaxed, sophisticated–what an Austin man should look like. Maya Star and Co-Star are both great. MayaStar is a little more classic Austin, Co-star is a little more New York. Other Austin favorites are gallery d, Stella Says Go, Mynte, Feathers (great vintage), Olive Vintage (run by friend Laura Uhlir) and Capra & Cavelli (ask for Ken Miller).

Recently, I’ve been styling for San Antonio Magazine. If you’re ever there, hit up Aquarius Boutique, Penny Lane, Pinky’s, and Sloan/Hal.

You mentioned how Facebook was a really active platform for fashion professionals in Austin, how do you use social media for your business?
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram–they’re all becoming more vital for marketing yourself. It’s really a combination of just establishing an online presence and connecting with other people in the industry. I kind of just try to put my personality out there–things I like, things I draw inspiration from–and see who’s out there.

The way you present yourself to world matters a lot, especially for a young black male. It’s how people gauge your self-respect and to a certain extent, your approach to life and work.

You said your family, especially your father has influenced your personal style, tell us about your dad.
Since I was little, he’s always made a point to teach me the importance of personal appearance.  Clothes and material things aren’t everything, but the way you present yourself to world matters a lot–especially for a young black male. It’s how people gauge your self-respect and to a certain extent, your approach to life and work. We tease him that he’s a little bit OCD, but he was definitely about the details–pants and shirt pressed, shoes and belt matching, tie knotted straight, shoes shined–all the basics. But beyond that he’s always had a very distinct sense of personal style. At the law firm he worked for when I was younger, he was known as a unique dresser. He was always mixing patterns and shades–polka dot ties and striped suspenders, monk strap shoes and tortoise shell glasses. I used to love to borrow his clothes, I still do. I wish I’d had enough foresight to make him keep more stuff from the 90s (when he was as skinny as I am). But I did manage to hold on to a pair of his old frames I might start rocking. I also still wear his old YSL belt, when he sees it he likes to remind me, “Man, that thing is older than you are.”  I think it still blows his mind that I’ll be 30 soon.

What would your dream shoot be?
My dream collaboration would somehow involve Rihanna (forever muse), Jesse Ware (other forever muse), Casely-Hayford, vintage Versace and Junior Gaultier, Paris (never been), with Meline Matsoukas and Bruce Weber behind the camera.

Favorite designers?

Wow that’s really hard. It kind of goes in cycles for me, to name a few- Celine (so tough, minimalist like me), Stella McCartney, Acne, Vena Cava, Hood by Air. Locally, Betty Atwell out of San Antonio and Hey Murphy here in Austin.

What’s up with your mom’s famous mac n’ cheese recipe? Can we have it?

Oooooo, that’s a family secret, yo! I will say it’s delicious and that it all starts with the roux.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

©Anna Krachey

We’re pretty proud, two artists in the I Love Texas Photo print shop, Anna Krachey and Elizabeth Chiles, will be showing in the exhibition, Contemporary Photographic Practice and the Archive, at the Ransom Center open June 11-August 4.

Showname: Contemporary Photographic Practice and the Archive

Location: Harry Ransom Center
The University of Texas at Austin
P.O. Box 7219
Austin TX 78713-7219

Dates:  June 11- August 4

Artists:  Leigh Brodie, Elizabeth Chiles, Anna Krachey, Jessica Mallios, Sarah Murphy, Mike Osborne, Jason Reed, Ben Ruggiero, Adam Schreiber, Susan Scafati Shahan, and Barry Stone.

Click here for more information about the exhibition. 

©Anna Krachey

 

 


 
Address: 300 West 21st Street Austin, Texas 78712 300 West 21st Street Austin, Texas 78712

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