September, 2014

pedaling for a cause: jamie kripke and peopleforbikes

Two years ago, Jamie Kripke was invited by the nonprofit bike advocacy group PeopleForBikes to document Ride on Washington, a five-day, five-city ride from Boston to Washington, D.C. This summer Kripke joined Ride on Chicago as one of 20 bicyclists riding over 500 miles from Kansas City to Chicago.

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Though he actually rode along on the ride two years ago, he says the Washington, D.C. and the Chicago events were two distinct experiences. “When you’re documenting you’re constantly looking for the next shot. As a rider, I found myself kind of freed from that, and I was able to just enjoy the ride. I had a camera with me and I shot the whole thing, but I did it in a very different way.

The camera, by the way, was a Fuji X-100 rangefinder with a fixed 35mm lens. Kripke says the fixed focal length was great because it was another decision he didn’t have to make, and the 35mm lens was perfect for the wide open spaces they were passing through.

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I learned pretty quickly that riding a bike for the sake of riding a bike and shooting pictures are two very different things. Biking for me has always been a way to decompress. I spend a lot of time thinking—or often not thinking. It made me realize how much time I spend on my bike and that it’s like meditation for me. I’ve found that I think about a lot of stuff, but I also think about nothing. Part of that is the rhythm of pedaling, the rhythm of breathing, you can’t get that just sitting in a chair.

Trying to take pictures while riding was a no-go, however. “This particular group rides really fast, and if you’re not behind or with the group you’re going to get left behind. And at 30 mph, you can’t take your hands off the handle bars to take pictures when you’re four inches off someone’s tire,” he says. So instead, he made a point of taking several pictures at each rest break.

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We stopped every couple hours to eat and refill water bottles and stretch. We were riding six to eight hours a day, so that happened a few times each day. I made sure that as soon as we stopped I spent five minutes shooting whatever was there. It was a great exercise for me because it taught me to stop thinking about shooting when I was riding. I ended up with this interesting collection of images that have this very similar feel of spontaneity. I didn’t choose where we stopped, so as a result the pictures have this structure to them that, to me, really reflect how the ride felt.

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Kripke was already an avid cyclist before he joined up with PeopleForBikes; he enjoys road cycling, mountain biking, and races cyclocross—not to mention using his bike to run errands around his hometown of Boulder, CO. “I have a bike that I can take to the grocery store and carry home four full bags of groceries. When I’m here in Boulder I never drive,” he says.

He didn’t really know what the group did when he started but now he’s an enthusiastic member. “PeopleForBikes does so much for the bike infrastructure of our country—most people don’t know what goes in to making a bike path in the middle of downtown Chicago, but they get it done,” he says. “I’m really proud to be able to use my photography to help further their cause and I feel good about helping to make more bike paths and bike lanes, and just get more people on bikes in general.

It’s not just his photography that helps to further the PeopleForBikes cause: As a rider, he was required to do some heavy fund raising. But by pre-selling the images he planned to take during the ride, he met his minimum fund-raising goal pretty quickly. “I had an unfair advantage on the fund-raising front,” he says. The images from the project, titled ‘The Shortest Distance Between Two Points Is’, were just shown last week at Interbike in Las Vegas. Additionally, there will be an evening viewing at Jamie’s studio in Boulder on 10/10 and a morning viewing and pop-up bakery for the Month of Modern on 10/12. And if you can’t make either of those, a limited edition of 20 prints are available for sale on Jamie’s site with 20% of the purchase price being donated to PeopleForBikes.

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So of all the images he took during the ride, what’s his favorite?

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A house that had just burned to the ground. I have no idea what happened there, we rode by it in the morning and it was smoking, like it had just burned down the night before. There are others I like just for the sake of the composition and the lighting, but the burning house—I shot that one from my bike as we were riding by, it was one of the few—and it’s definitely my favorite,” he says.

 

midwest tour

I am just back from another installment of the #mcaroadshow and more than ever I am convinced that we have a unique and amazing thing going on. Many thanks to my roadshow crew for a great week, and to all our hosts in Detroit and Minneapolis…until next time.

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matthew turley for marriott rewards

What do New Orleans, Grand Cayman, and Bangkok, Thailand, all have in common? They each have a hotel property that is part of the Marriott Rewards network. Matthew Turley was in all three places recently to shoot the company’s latest advertising campaign.

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The assignment, which came via mcgarrybowen in New York, was to create one magazine-spread image for each location. “It was less about the properties themselves, and more about the experiences that you can have,” says Turley. Indeed, none of the images shows the hotel directly. In New Orleans, Turley shot an art gallery space where the hotel often hosts live concerts; in Grand Cayman, it was a woman snorkeling with school of stingrays; and in Bangkok, Turley climbed a 50-foot custom-built scaffolding to shoot the 360-degree views of the hotel’s rooftop bar.

The client already had a well-defined concept for the project, Turley says, the creativity came from how to execute it. He credits his producer Steven Currie with helping him to pull it off. “The three ads are evidence it worked out well, they are really close to the original layouts,” says Currie.

Art Producer Kim Stoerker, who produced the project and traveled with Matthew’s team had this to say about the shoot: Our agency (mcgarrybowen) initiated this project in July, 2013 once the creative was approved. After 9 months, we were finally on our way with Matthew Turley! Each of the three destinations we photographed had their own unique energy: the lively spirit of New Orleans during Mardi Gras, the relaxed vibe of Grand Cayman during their endless summer and the intensity of Bangkok! Our goal with Matthew was to highlight the unique experiences a traveler could have during his/her stay at each of these Marriott properties when they used Marriott Rewards Points. It was impossible not to soak in some of the local flavor while visiting these cities and I think some of that flavor shows in the final images. Matthew had the right skill set for this project. Whether it was scaling buildings or hopping in the water with slippery sea creatures, he was game to do it if it was the best way to get the shot. Our team had a great chemistry throughout our 23 days together and that always makes a project even more satisfying to see come to life! “

There was also a video production team shooting television ads, which Currie says helped them out. “We usually had an extra day of prep while the video team did their shoot. The schedule allowed us to investigate our options for shooting these things.”

Currie says the production was interesting because each shot required a different execution and each scenario presented different challenges. “Underwater you’re dealing with live untrained animals, the interior you’re dealing with lighting, and for the rooftop shot we had to build the scaffolding from a floor below to where Matthew wanted to be with the camera,” he says. “We never would have gotten that scaffolding and gotten that angle if we had been rushed into shooting. The schedule allowed us to be a little more creative.”

The scaffolding, Currie notes was perfectly safe; they had the permits and insurance required. Still, Currie said, “I wasn’t going out there!

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None of the final images is a single image—they are all composites of multiple shots. The Grand Cayman image is a made up of 15 to 20 individual images, and the rooftop image in Bangkok required more than 20 images. “The post-production is where I really got to express myself,” says Turley.

Turley says a big production with so many moving parts is rewarding to work on, and especially exciting when it all comes together. “With the right crew, enough time, and great locations, problem solving becomes rewarding, rather than frustrating,” he says.

In addition to producer Steven Currie, Turley’s team consisted of first assistant and digital tech Mikey Kunde, second assistant Chris Jameson, and San Francisco-based stylist Colleen Hartman.

A big thank you to Art Producer Kim Stoerker and Art Director Mayumi Tatsuta from mcgarrybowen for the awesome project.

rj muna wins 2014 APA national photo award for portrait category

Congratulations AGAIN RJ, for your 2nd place win in the portrait category of the 2014 APA National Photo Awards, announced today. This is a trifecta, as the winning image is from the same series shot for Alonzo King Lines Ballet that also won this year’s PDN and Communication Arts awards as well. Way to go RJ!

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