Recently, DC-based photographer Eli Meir Kaplan took a jaunt down to Goshen Scout Reservation in Virginia to shoot some personal work for the Boy Scouts of America. This was a natural light project, like most of Eli’s work, and filled with iconography that hasn’t changed much in the past 50 years.
I chatted with Eli about his inspiration for the project:
Goshen Scout Reservation first came to my attention because I had an intern who worked at one of the main Boy Scouts of America camps every summer, which sounded interesting. I did a quick Google search and found Goshen Scout Reservation, which exclusively serves Scouts from the Washington, DC area. It was set in the Shenandoah Valley, which is beautiful. Also, I was a Cub Scout as a kid and went to a similar camp for a week.
It was a two day shoot, with the first being mostly location scouting.
Eli plans on putting together a print promo piece featuring the project. For more of Eli’s work, check out his website.
One of the main skills Art Meripol learned while working as a travel photographer for Southern Living for 25 years was that “great travel shoots are about letting the people tell the story of the place.”
His recent project for the State of Alabama Department of Tourism required him to photograph 60-80 places, all with one thing in common: southern barbeque. The photos are for a book on barbeque in Alabama, scheduled to come out this fall. Art has already documented 40 places, with another 30-40 to go.
Art said he was thrilled to get the job, but it’s also a challenge: “How do you make sure it’s not page after page of brown food?”
The solution to the challenge of incorporating variety into his shots included making them not just about the food, but about the people.
The writer I’m working with is researching in advance of my shoots. Her shot lists have been good at helping me decide what to shoot at each place. The pit masters and personality photos are the most fun.
Although the pit masters add an important aspect to the book, at the end of the day, people want to see what the food looks like. Art found himself going for close-up shots more often, focusing on all the yummy details:
I want people to see the detail in the burnt edges, the smoke ring and whether it’s pulled, chopped or sliced. The basic repertoire of shots consists of the staff, exteriors, interiors, customers, signs, plate shots and grills, pits and smokers. Within that I look for as much variation as possible.
Another challenge has been keeping himself fresh and energized despite shooting so many locations in such a short amount of time. (In the heart of southern summer at that!) Art keeps ample amounts of water and apples within reach, and does everything he can to limit taste testing. He has been updating his fan base via Instagram and Facebook (hashtag: #mysummerofsmoke). He had his annual physical before he started shooting, and is aiming to keep his cholesterol consistent despite all of the delicious temptation!
Although there’s a plethora of yummy food and variety of locations, Art says that this book is all about great craftsmen, with each location a new challenge and new story to tell. He will rise at 4:30 a.m. most days, sharing the quiet pre-dawn hours with just the pit masters, talking barbeque and life in Alabama.
Art’s favorite part of the project thus far? Getting to explore his own state:
I traveled out of state and across the south for almost 25 years for [Southern Living] magazine. When I came home from trips I stayed home to be with family. I’m now going down the back roads and seeing all the towns and rural areas that were just places on a map before. There’s some real beauty I never knew existed.
The project is scheduled to wrap in early August. For more of Art’s work, check out his website.
Last week, Ann, Sean and I met bright and early for a busy day of meetings and portfolio events at agencies in New York City. After a bit of tunnel traffic and a few well-deserved coffees, we started our day at the Anomaly office in SOHO. The art buyers at Anomaly were already familiar with WM and enjoyed being able to page through our member portfolios in person.
Sean guards our portfolios in the Big Apple
Art buyers page through portfolios with Ann and Sean, center, at Anomaly.
Sean talks about our production services with Jordan Spielman at Anomaly.
The art buyers were happy to learn of our simple stock request page and spent some time discussing current projects with us. The senior art buyers were particularly impressed with Kyle Dreier’s leather-bound portfolio of food photography. You can view Kyle’s portfolio below:
Next, we headed to the colorful offices of Cramer-Krasselt on Broadway. After a fun ride in a 100-year-old freight elevator with its operator, Jimmy, we met with art director Alain Baburam.
We enjoyed our ride with freight elevator operator Jimmy before meeting with Alain at Cramer-Krasselt. Jimmy has been working in the 100-year-old elevator for 28 years!
Left to right: Sean, Alain and Ann discussing Ashley Gieseking’s work.
Alain was looking for photographers to consider for current projects with a grocery store client and a popular beverage brand. He was specifically on a quest to find a food and still life photographer with a “darker” style for Cramer-Krasselt’s major alcoholic beverage client. Alain browsed thoroughly through the portfolios that we brought for him, really enjoying the food work from David Arky and Adriana Mullen. You can take a look at David’s portfolio below:
Last, but certainly not least, we headed to Midtown for a portfolio review at the BBDO office. Many of the art buyers at BBDO have used our site and were happy to hear about our production services and browse through the work of our wealth of photographers. A few people told me that they love being able to search by location for photographers, since BBDO has a variety of clients from around the world. Many of the “newbies” in the business were impressed with the quality of our members’ work, and happily grabbed some business cards for future reference.
Dozens of art buyers, illustrators and directors showed up to enjoy WM portfolios, beer and sushi during our portfolio review at BBDO’s NYC office.
From left, Katie Johnson, myself, Sarah Ryder and Ann chat about WM services.
The creatives at BBDO enjoyed a spread of craft beer and sushi during the afternoon portfolio event, and stocked up on leave behinds before heading out for the day. While all the portfolios were a hit, BBDO staffers were especially impressed with portfolios from Andy Reynolds, Austin Hargrave and Victor Wang.
Austin Hargrave’s portfolio:
As the day wound down, some of the art buyers took me to get an inside look at the not-so-secret bar in the office at BBDO. Central Filing, located behind a plain door on the 8th floor, was a magical room stacked with ancient filing cabinets and manned by bartender Joe, who has been serving up drinks to BBDO employees for 24 years.
I got to end the day with a visit to BBDO’s not-so-secret office bar.
After a couple of photo ops with the local celebrity/bartender, we packed up and braved the NYC rush hour to head back home. Our busy day in the city was well-worth-it: we met some great people and had an awesome time showing off our member photographers. Until next time, NYC!