Travis Kramer is the Creative Director at Blacktop Creative. He is a wonderful client and has become a great friend to Leigh Beisch, her studio and our office. On a recent shoot, he took out his phone and captured some nice moments and interesting perspectives at Leigh’s studio. Leigh has always said how important it is to her for clients to feel at home in the space, and obviously Travis does.
What one word would you use to describe Leigh’s Studio?
Where is your most favorite spot in the studio?
The back Garden. Great for lunch, conference calls, or just a change of scenery.
What do you think client’s most like about the space?
Shooting at Leigh’s is the “anti-studio” experience. It’s not stressful. It’s not cold and expansive. It’s a very professional experience but with a homelike environment. It’s charming, intimate and thoughtful.
What’s the best afternoon treat the studio provides?
The Latte’s. They should consider opening a coffee shop next door.
What is your favorite season to shoot at Leigh’s studio?
Fall, when the leaves in the garden change and the apples come off the tree.
I am always excited when one of the cookbooks I work on gets published. Looking through the freshly printed pages is like looking through a yearbook-bringing back the memories of each shot. Since Homemade Liqueurs and Infused Spirits by Andrew Schloss is a book for the "home mixologist" we wanted to be approachable and inspirational with the photography. That allowed for playfulness with color, presentation, ingredients and packaging. Bringing the idea of gifting into the shots added another dimension to the project. I like to take that idea and treat it in an elegant way, supporting rather than downplaying the recipe. With all the array of interesting bottles and jars out there we had some great choices to support this without getting too cluttered or too craftsie. In the end it was a project that was enjoyable to do and to give as a gift itself. And no- we didn't sit around drinking the liquers all day during the shoot- as tempting as it was!
I wanted to share my Christmas card on the blog since I love- love what Peggy did with the design. It really captures the adventure we had on our global project that relocated the studio to Hong Kong for almost four weeks this year. Because that was such a remarkable trip, I decided that is how I should sign off the year- with greetings from Hong Kong. We found that city to be full of life, moving very quickly and yet there was a peacefulness and grace too. Exotic and yet familiar. We had many adventures, challenges and successes. I credit an amazing team and clients for working through the challenges and achieving those successes. Enough said.
I wanted to share an article that I just read about photography. I find that thinking about photography as a medium is as important as looking at photography and the act of taking pictures itself. After all photography is a tool to create, not just merely capture the world directly as it is, in the most realistic fashion, it is a mode of expression. It is a way for us to get our passions, our thoughts our secrets across as one human reaching out to another. Even if it is a photograph of a hamburger or a child starving somewhere, or a landscape shot- the photograph is not just about the subject, it is about the person taking the photograph and the vision behind it. How do we express that with the medium we use. How do we use it's limitations as some see it - to unlock the humanity behind the lens?
Article from "The Challenge of Photography" Magazine
Photography does not lend itself to defamiliarization easily,
thus making it the unlikeliest of all art forms. As it happens, the challenge
plays out on both sides of the process, for photographers and viewers. What
happened to be in front of a camera lens can be found depicted in the resulting
photograph. However, given the process itself and its myriad of choices, the
photograph is little more than a manipulated two-dimensional representation of
what previously existed in four dimensions (three spatial, one – often
forgotten – time).
A photograph thus is not necessarily a document or fact,
and it’s certainly not “the truth” (whatever that term might mean). It is a
truth, one truth out of many others, a personal truth: The photographer’s. To
assume that this truth then automatically translates into a larger truth is
foolish. It might, or it might not.
In photography circles and beyond, photographs are said to
be lying. This, however, only reveals a general lack of understanding that is
common even amongst many of photography’s practitioners, let alone those who
merely engage with it as disinterested viewers. Photographs do not lie any more
or less than paintings do, or ballet performances, or these words. As I already
noted, they present a truth, whatever that truth might be.
By construction, photography defamiliarizes, at least to
some extent: we do not see the world as it appears to us in photographs. For a
start, photography lacks the element of time. A photographs is a frozen moment.
It is a short moment cut out from the endless arrow of time, forever moving
forward. For us, time never stands still, so encountering frozen time in a
photograph can make us come to strange conclusions: We still treat someone’s depiction
in a portrait, for example, as if we were in the presence of that person, when
in reality, that frozen moment is just one out of countless other ones. A happy
person, portrayed in just the right (or wrong) moment might thus appear not to
be happy at all (or vice versa).
When we see a painted portrait of a person, we take it as
the likeness of someone, and we admire the skills of the painter. When we see a
photographic portrait of a person, we take it as that person, usually
completely ignoring the hands of the maker.
The problem we are dealing with has been made considerably
worse by various critics and writers who have used photography’s inherent
properties as means for an indictment (most famously Susan Sontag). Since those
texts are widely used in the process of photography education, many of the
medium’s practitioners leave school with what can only be described as
misguided ideas of their own medium. I can think of no other art form that in
the process of educating its next generations puts such major impediments in
For its viewers, the situation is hardly any better.
Serious discussions of what the medium does and how, and how the use of
photographs factors into what ultimately creates their meaning, are almost
entirely absent from the same media that use photography on a daily basis. The
best one can hope for (yes, I am being facetious here) are discussions of
supposed manipulation in news photographs that typically center on essentially
Ill-defined (and undefinable) criteria for what is allowed and what is not.
One need not expect any layperson to dive deeper into any
of these discussions. Seen from outside the narrow defines of the world of
photography, those discussions usually resemble theological arguments about
church dogma. Perhaps not inevitably, distrust of the media has sharply grown.
As a result, a medium that is approaching its 200th
birthday is as badly understood as ever by both its makers and viewers, the
frequent noises about whatever academic/intellectual fad is being followed at
any given time notwithstanding (at the time of this writing, it’s still
postmodernism). Add to that the digital revolution, and the situation isn’t
The irony here is that photography is more widely used
than ever. It is much more easily accessible than ever, in much, much larger
numbers (those who note that such claims have been made before are correct, yet
they miss the point entirely).
As it turns out, laypersons usually have a much better
understanding of photography than critics or theorists. Whenever I talk to
people who are not part of the world of photography, many of the concerns that
appear to give theorists or photographers endless nightmares simply don’t
appear to exist. Too many photographs? Who says so? Can there be a thing such
as too many photographs, and why would that even be a problem?
None of the non-photo-world people I have talked to over
the past years has ever even entertained the idea that their photographs on
Instagram, say, would be comparable to photographs produced by professionals.
People know the difference between apples and oranges very well. Yet in the
world of photography, we seem stuck worrying about how since they’re both round
and fruits, they must be the same, right?
So we need to go back and give that medium a good, hard
look again. What does it actually do? Not what we think it does, not what
we want it to do. Instead: What does it do? And how does it do that? We need to
think about that process of defamiliarization.
Instead of whining about the limitations of the medium, we
need to start appreciating those very limitations. It is right here that the
promises lie. Right here. And the promises are plentiful, much more plentiful
than the limitations.
We take photographs out of this world we live in, and the
moment we have done that they become something else entirely.
I am primarily a food photographer, but like to extend my aesthetic to other subjects. Cosmetics are something I have always been drawn to, even as a kid. The vibrant colors and smooth luscious textures have always been appealing to me. I find that a lot of cosmetic photography tends to take a clinical approach so I wanted to shoot some in a more emotive, natural way while still maintaining the playfulness of color and texture inherent the products.
Babycenter, the well known online parenting site decided to re do their extremely popular baby comparison feature. They wanted fresh, healthy looking fruit and veggie shots to illustrate how big a baby is at a certain stage of develpment. They wanted photos that their readers would want to share through social media- Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. This is one of a few social media projects I have had lately and I was excited when they contacted me. I love the idea that people would be sharing my photos- enjoying them on an ongoing basis. Also for my photos to be a part of that extremely important time in a parent's life- when they are excited to see how large their baby is at that stage- that was really cool since I have shared in the same experience waiting for my daughter to be born.
Here are the photos on Pinterest- with already over 20,000 followers!
I love it when a project I work on does really well for a client- it feels like all the hard work has paid off and that we accomplished what we set out to do. I just learned that the Paleo Cookbook from Elana's Pantry was the #1 pre order title for all of Crown's titles for Spring. What's more it ranked #16 on the New York Times Best Seller List. Congratulations to Elana Amsterdam, Ten Speed Press and my amazing photo team!
An award-winning commercial photographer specializing in food and still life. Leigh's work has been featured in numerous cookbooks and magazines, national advertising, packaging and catalogs. Her personal work includes a series of abstract landscapes. She lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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