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jamie kripke: down the rhein

It was family, not photography, that led Jamie Kripke to board a riverboat in Basel, Switzerland, for a week-long cruise down the Rhine, but once the plans were made, he knew he wanted to take photographic advantage of the unique opportunity. 

The Rhine has been a vital European waterway since the days of the Roman Empire. At more than 700 miles long, it’s the second longest river in Europe after the Danube. The Rhine begins high in the Swiss Alps and empties into the North Sea through the Netherlands, forming borders between Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, and France. The Rhine Valley is known for its high concentration of medieval castles, a centuries-old site of intense conflict and a backdrop for Europe’s greatest wars.

Today the Rhine is the setting for a new conflict: that of human vs. nature. The most expensive photograph ever sold (to date) is Andreas Gursky’s Rhein II, a heavily retouched landscape across an area of the river facing intense industrialization. It serves the largest inland port in the world and continues to serve as a vital shipping route.

I spent a lot of time watching the scenery go by. There was a surprising amount of industry, but there were also some very beautiful areas,” recalled Jamie. “I wasn’t sure how I was going to use the images, but I knew I wanted to create something that reflected the idea of a river in conflict.”

Jamie selected images for two collections based on the trip. Down the Rhein is a documentary style group of images that reflect how the river is essential to the communities and cultures along its banks. Down the Rhein II is an abstract meditation on the clash between the natural and the industrialized world.

I chose five photographs and a created mirror image to represent the opposing forces evident in the region. I layered in color, but there’s a darkness to them that speaks to the industrial theme that dominated much of this trip,” explained Jaime.

 

 

 

 

randal ford’s animal kingdom

Lions, tigers, and bears — in the studio? That’s just another day behind the camera for Austin photographer Randal Ford and the subject of his first book, The Animal Kingdom: A Collection of Portraits (Rizzoli).

It started a decade ago with an assignment to photograph a series of portraits of cows for the re-designed cover of Dairy Today. These pictures really became portraits of the cows, showing their personality and coming to life, in a way. I figured that if I could show the personality of a cow, I could also do it with other animals,” Randal told Texas Monthly.

Over the years, Randal has developed a network of animal lovers who have helped him to tick off a dream list of species, from a cheetah called Yohan to Walter, the great horned owl. He photographs most of his subjects against a clean white background using fine art lighting and careful composition (and a sometimes a bucket of raw chicken) to show off an individual’s personality and profile.

Creating portraits of animals has its own interesting aspects and challenges. The lack of control when shooting animals is freeing but is also a good exercise to balance out the control I have when creating portraits of people,said Randal.

The book features portraits of 150 species, from a male lion cub with a mohawk to a chimpanzee channeling Rodin, not to mention an African crane, a cockatoo, a flamingo, several roosters, Arabian horses, bulls, Longhorn sheep, and a pride of big cats.

The beautiful organisms that have graced Mr. Ford’s lens give us a glimpse into a world in which creatures that are often marginalized stand proudly before us,” wrote photographer Dan Winters in the book’s forward.

The Animal Kingdom: A Collection of Portraits is available now from Amazon and booksellers everywhere. Proceeds for the sales of the book benefit Project Survival’s Cat Haven.

Thank you to Nick Cabrera for the images of the book.

rj muna and alonzo king lines ballet at sfo

Alonzo King LINES Ballet is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year with a special exhibition of photography by RJ Muna at San Francisco International Airport. RJ has been photographing dance in the Bay Area for more than 20 years, and has been collaborating with LINES Ballet since 2009. The 14 images are something of a retrospective of the partnership between photographer and company.

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I think as time goes on, they trust me a little more with the lighting and the idea in the shot. We started very simple, and then began to think more elaborately in terms of idea. Now we kind of go back and forth between something that’s very clean and pure and something that’s a little more high concept,” said RJ.

The celebrated contemporary ballet company has been guided by Alonzo King’s unique artistic approach since the early 1980s. King creates pieces that draw on a diverse set of deeply rooted cultural traditions to take classical ballet in a new expressive direction.

Many of the dancers have been with LINES for a number of years, and throughout the collaboration, have become friends with RJ. These relationships have contributed to the photography.

They have confidence in me, they feel comfortable in front of the camera. They know I’m going to get them at the right time and they’re willing to work very hard because they’re confident with the results. I think that’s probably the biggest factor in terms of the evolution—they’re on board with what we’re doing,” RJ explained.

Many of the images were included in a book published by Alonzo King LINES Ballet in 2013, but this is the first time a collection of images has been presented publicly. The images are usually viewed as a single image in a brochure, on the side of a bus, or a billboard to promote the company.

We never see them all together—it’s a whole different experience. It’s pretty interesting to see the image by itself, but it’s also incredibly satisfying to see the best images as a group. It gives you a sense that you’ve accomplished something over time,” said RJ.

RJ is well known for his high-end automotive photography, but has long enjoyed photographing dancers. He’s won numerous awards for his work including the International Center of Photography’s Infinity Award, a Clio Award, a Lucie Award, and most recently a Silver award in the Graphis 2018 Photography Annual for his portraits of Alonzo King LINES Ballet dancers. His film work has been featured in festivals including the Dance On Camera Festival and the San Francisco Dance Film Festival, among others.

jamie kripke’s air show

Jamie Kripke’s personal project Air Show started with a little research into the origins of flight via the Wright Brothers. “Being from Ohio, a lover of bicycles, and someone with a healthy fear of flying, I was naturally drawn to the story of the Wright Brothers,” he wrote of the project.It seemed like a logical place to start.

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He learned that Wilbur preferred long country rides and Orville the track, that their first airplane could only fly straight, and that much of the design and many of the parts for their airplanes belonged to their bicycles.

After researching the Wright Brothers’ story, I had to go to Dayton,” Jamie said. The Dayton Air Show, held annually in late June, is one of the country’s foremost airshows featuring world-class aerobatic performances, cutting-edge military jet displays and demonstrations, and a fleet of pristine World War II-era aircraft.

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On the media day before the show, they offered me a ride in a fighter jet, which I promptly turned down. Matthew Turley thinks I’m crazy. Then again, he’s a licensed pilot. So I think that he is crazy,” he joked.

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Tens of thousands of spectators attend the event, along with hundreds of professional and amateur aviation photographers.

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I think there is an overabundance of ‘real’ and ‘authentic’ imagery out in the world right now. It used to be interesting to me, but not anymore. So I knew that creatively I wanted to go in the other direction—to make something ‘surreal’ instead of real,” Jamie said of his Air Show images.

 

While he was in Dayton, Jamie also visited Carillon Historical Park, home to an original 1905 Wright Flyer, and the Wright Cycle Company building on Williams Street, now a historic landmark. Keep an eye out for his next project, which will feature images made at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, just outside of Dayton.

I honestly think this is sort of a next step in the evolution of my work, and one that is totally unique to me. I’m going to follow it, and see where it goes,” Jamie said.

To read Jamie’s own post of the project, hop over to his journal and to see the rest of the images from the series, link to Jamie’s site here.

margaret lampert goes back to the dairy farm

Margaret Lampert’s recent personal project is inspired by her childhood on a dairy farm just north of Boston. This past year, she started exploring her dairy farm roots, traveling to several farms in Vermont and upstate New York.

I’ve always had an affinity for dairy cows, having grown up around them. My father was a gentleman farmer and we had a very serious herd of Ayrshire cattle. We had two world record producing Ayrshires. Rumor has it he had to have 400 head of cattle because his parents wouldn’t let him have a pet as a child,” Margaret laughs.

Recently, she was up in Vermont at The Putney School to photograph Avery MacLean, daughter of aerial landscape photographer Alex MacLean. MacLean’s work is in part a commentary on our environment and the way we use our resources, and he and his wife Kate raised their family in a way that reflects that philosophy. Avery grew up around animals—they always had chickens and goats—which in part led her to The Putney School, a progressive high school focused on sustainability, situated on a 500-acre dairy farm. Avery was spending the summer before her senior year caring for the animals.

Since I was a child, agriculture has always played a role in my life. In the summers we grew as much as we could, and visited local farms to purchase what we couldn’t,” said Avery. “After completing my junior year at The Putney School, milking cows before class, I was hired to stay for the summer—to milk our 40 cows twice a day and work in the gardens.

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On a late-summer evening, Margaret arrived at The Putney School to photograph Avery and the dairy cows.

A lot of people wouldn’t just walk out into a field full of cows, but it just feels like home to me. It was the perfect evening; the cows and the light were beautiful. I don’t get to be around those animals much any more so this was sort of a special homecoming for me,” said Margaret. “Avery is a wonderful subject because she’s very relaxed and sure of herself. Sharing the experience of being there amongst the cows with Avery brought back a piece of my childhood.

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Margaret hopes to go back this fall to shoot more with Avery. We’ll be looking forward to seeing those images!

jamie kripke’s chicago fieldhouse project

Jamie Kripke’s latest personal project came about somewhat by happenstance: he was doing some photography research for a friend when he discovered the unique story of the Chicago Park District’s fieldhouses. The city began building fieldhouses in the 1850s to provide a year-round community space for athletics, recreation, and other activities. Today, the city maintains some 230 fieldhouses, nearly one for every neighborhood.

This project is similar to the project I shot about the Freemasons in that the buildings are from another time. The kind of sad part is that the buildings are really underused just because of cultural and societal changes over the years. That’s also reflected in our architecture. Many of the fieldhouses are these beautiful old buildings built out of brick and stone and wood,” said Jamie.

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He made four trips to Chicago over the past year; on each trip he visited a few more locations, wandering the halls and grounds with a tripod and his camera. No two fieldhouses are exactly alike. Some have pools, others have libraries. Rather than shoot the buildings, Jamie was looking for the details that make them unique.

It was less about the grandeur of the space and more about what I could discover that was maybe less obvious. I shot the big spaces when they were interesting, but a lot of the project was wandering around looking for these hidden details,” he said.

Taken as a whole, the collection of images tells the stories of the people who have enjoyed these community centers over the past 100 or more years. Some of his favorite images are of the swimming pool with all its textures and colors.

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I wanted to find the common thread that ties all these buildings together. What I discovered was this kind of patina that tells a story,” he said.

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You can read Jamie’s original blog post about this project here, and see all of the images on his website.

annabelle breakey’s personal perfume project

Renowned food and still life photographer Annabelle Breakey has a passion for perfume. Her most recent personal project takes three of her favorite fragrances and presents them against elaborate and whimsical backdrops inspired by the fragrances themselves.

As a food and still life photographer, a lot of what I do is beautiful and fairly straight forward. I love the world of fashion—who doesn’t like glitz and glamour and makeup and shiny bits and sparkle and splashes?” laughs Annabelle. “What I wanted to do with the perfume is to talk about the essence of the nature of the subjects.

24, Faubourg, named for the address of the first Hermès store in Paris, is an homage to the company’s roots in the equestrian world. The background is a piece of calf leather toned to resemble an iconic Hermès scarf. The reigns, bridles, stirrups, ribbons, and flowers are all individual photographs married into a single image in post-production.

Leather doesn’t bend like that, so we had to bend it, pin it up, photograph it, and composite it together. We shot about 50 photographs to make this single image. We could only find one riding crop, so we had to shoot it four times. I wanted the light to be coming from the back right corner. I wanted the lighting to be authentic, so I’d rather move the object and shoot it in the space it’s going to be than cut and paste it,” she said.

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Annabelle says the McQueen Parfum by Alexander McQueen is her absolute favorite fragrance. For the photograph, she was inspired by the feathers on the shoulders of the matte black bottle. The fragrance has tuberose in it, which gives it a sultry quality, and she wanted the image to evoke a magical and alluring feeling. Her first concept was based on the sculptures made out of feathers by a conceptual artist she came across in Paris. She built an elaborate background of feathers, but realized it was too busy. So she bought orchid branches and a brass birdcage and painted them black so as not to overwhelm the bottle.

It ended up being a lot more simple than I thought it would be. Perfume bottles are so small and shiny. You have to simplify the background so that the focus is on the bottle alone,” said Annabelle.

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Valentino is known for contrasts. They shoot fashion and accessories in unusual locations, on the top of a mountain or in a dark alley. The style is at once tough and oh-so-feminine. For the image of the Valentino Donna fragrance, Annabelle headed to Chinatown to pick up Buddhas, firecrackers, roses, coins, and jade. She photographed all of these items individually in different compositions to create a unique background.

I wanted to create all these metaphors in the wallpaper, and then keep the image of the bottle really simple,” she said.

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The images are featured on her website and in her portfolio, which she says she doesn’t get to present all that often, but when she does, the large, colorful images make a wonderful impression.

This project was just for fun. I wanted to do something a little more conceptual, with a higher level of thinking, and to execute it with photographic perfection. I wanted these images to look exquisite and delicious and natural and naturally occurring. You can do that with fragrances because they’re such amazing subjects,” said Annabelle.

shaun fenn’s crew project

It’s not surprising to find Shaun Fenn hanging around down by the water, but his latest personal project, Crew, shot at the Newport Aquatic Center, hits particularly close to home.

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My brother rowed in college, and he and the coach were on the same team, so we’re all old friends. Now my brother’s son is rowing on the [NAC] team. Newport Beach is home for me; it’s where I grew up. It feels so comfortable being around the water so it was a really natural fit,” said Shaun.

Shaun shot an extensive collection of photos—hanging around the dock, on the water, and in the locker room. The goal was to capture imagery that would tell a story of about the challenges and camaraderie of the team, and what it means to be a member.

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The kids were having such a good time. They’re all hams; they love to get their picture taken. They feel like rock stars. Of course, the more time I spent taking their picture the less time they were out on the water getting their butt kicked by the coach,” he laughed.

The images, presented in black and white, a throwback to Shaun’s days shooting with Kodak Tri-X film, are included in his most recent mailer.

I love the whole vintage feel, it really speaks to how long this sport’s been around—its European roots. It’s changed a lot; it’s no longer a handful of guys in a cotton t-shirt out on a wood boat. Now it’s all steel and fiberglass and timing devices. It’s pretty hard core,” Shaun observed.

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The second goal of the project was to take his trademark aesthetic and approach and apply them to different scenarios and treatments, be it sport or business, color or black and white.

As a commercial photographer, I’m always trying to find ways to look outside the box and expand my repertoire, ” Shaun added.

shaun fenn’s lumber project

Shaun Fenn likes to keep a running list of personal projects to work on when the chance arises. Inspired by the images one might have from childhood of the lumber industry, Shaun traveled to the dense forests of northern Maine and along the California-Oregon border for his latest project titled simply, Lumber.

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In my free time, I like to try and tackle subjects that I’m personally curious about. In this particular story, I loved the juxtaposition of the gritty, industrial subject approached with a refined aesthetic,” Shaun says.

Shaun began the project inspired by classic images of lumberjacks settling the West, clearing old growth redwoods with saws and axes, but when he got into the project he discovered that as technology has changed a lot of industries, the lumber industry is no exception.

Instead of all those people going out and cutting these trees down, there’s a single person in a single operator that processes trees like a cook processes onions, just flies through these trees like you can’t believe. Picks them up like toothpicks and strips them in one stroke. One guy in a truck all night long, 24 hours per day,” says Shaun.

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In addition, the vocation has run into the global effort to preserve some of the more valuable “old growth” trees. The mills are being retrofitted to process smaller lumber because the larger trees are rare and thus protected.

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Our incredible forests are a treasure, but also a necessary resource which is a foundation for economic growth. The new lumber industry has a very production-centric process confined by a great deal of government regulation.” Shaun says.

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The images, in color and black and white, show the gritty side of the job—trucks slogging through the mud, machines processing wood, the breath of a single operator hanging in the night sky lit by a spotlight—as well as intimate portraits of the few men left who run the show and a close-up of a freshly cut tree stump, the rings telling the story of the tree’s brief life.

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Like an editorial approach, I shot what was there in front of me and enjoyed the process. The incredible smell of a freshly cut tree is timeless and enduring. And I found the amount of dedication and pride amongst the men and women who provide the lumber that we use throughout our daily lives, similarly inspirational.” reflects Shaun.

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He says a secondary goal of the project was to show that you don’t need to go to some exotic place to make beautiful and interesting photographs. “This is right here in the U.S. It’s not in Ukraine or China. I set out to create inspiring images around vocations and emotions right here at home. The personal challenge of creating interesting imagery around the “everyday” is super healthy for me.”

The project was shot in 2015. Early in 2016 he sent out a large mailer with a couple dozen images that best showcase the beauty he found in the lumber project.

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Personal projects help me to grow. They allow me to get into a subject intimately and tell a story. A very good exercise for the soul.” says Shaun.

instagram takeover by jim salzano

For the next week, I’m doing an Instagram takeover featuring samples of my waitress project. Go to the New Republic Magazine’s page to see the series.

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Thanks to Stephanie Heimann and The New Republic Magazine for featuring this series. This project has been an obsession of mine for over 25 years. I’ve photographed waitresses in more than 20 countries in every type of restaurant imaginable! And am always looking to find the next waitress willing to pose for the project. I love meeting these strong, determined women and hearing their stories. This is a coffee shop in Memphis, Tennessee.

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Today’s takeover is a portrait at the 11th Street Diner in South Beach, Miami, FL. I was in town for a shoot and took some extra time to visit this diner. I had to get permission from this waitress’s family because she was under 18. We waited for her mom to come to the diner and and approve this before I shot it.

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The latest in my New Republic Magazine’s Instagram takeover. I was in Ireland in 1993 and heard about a great place in Dublin, Bewley’s Cafe. This is when they were still wearing old style uniforms.

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Today’s New Republic Magazine’s Instagram take over is a portrait of a waitress I shot in Rome. This waitress wouldn’t stop moving and although I got her to look at the camera she kept saying that she wanted me to catch her in the act!

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Today’s second Instagram takeover post was shot at a great New York City spot, The Coffee Shop in Union Square. Thanks to Eric Petterson and the Coffee Shop crew.

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Today’s New Republic Instagram takeover was shot at the Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans, LA. a few weeks before hurricane Katrina. I’m happy to see the cafe recovered and is doing well.

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This New Republic’s Instagram takeover post is a waitress portrait in Evansville, IN at the Hilltop Inn. Voted the manliest restaurant in America by Asylum Magazine in 2009. The waitresses were pretty tough!

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Continuing this week’s New Republic Magazine’s Instagram takeover with a waitress I shot in Shanghai, China. This was a men’s-only tea house and my female interpreter insisted I go upstairs with this waitress and have tea, while she stayed in this waiting area for women. I went upstairs to a large dark room which was filled with men smoking cigarettes and drinking tea, served by waitresses dressed like this.

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The next image for The New Republic Magazine’s Instagram takeover is a portrait of a waitress at a Chicago coffee shop. I seldom have the opportunity to get behind the counter for these portraits, but this place was very open, flexible and Christmas-spirited, and allowed me to move around and shoot wherever I wanted. 

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My next-to-last day of New Republic Magazine’s Instagram takeover is a shot taken in the Monmartre section of Paris. I was visiting a friend and asked her where I might be able to shoot a waitress. She told me there weren’t many waitresses in the area, that most restaurants used waiters exclusively. Then she remembered a family-owned restaurant where one of the owners also worked as a waitress. This is her portrait.

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This is my final post of The New Republic Magazine’s Instagram takeover. It’s a shot taken at the Hofbrauhaus in Munich, Germany, during Oktoberfest. I got there mid-morning expecting only the breakfast crowd, but the beer-drinking had already begun. Thanks again to Stephanie Heimann for featuring this series – hope you all enjoyed seeing a portion of my ongoing project.

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building ello by jamie kripke

I asked Jamie Kripke to share some thoughts on his photo essay ‘Building Ello’, a behind the scenes look at the creative minds at Mode Set.

Mode Set is a group of creative technologists who built Ello.co, a brand new, rapidly expanding social network. The work Mode Set does involves lots of thinking, some talking, and some typing. I couldn’t help feeling like I was watching chess: study the board thoroughly, consider options, make a move, see what happens.

There was some some serious 12th degree black belt thinking going on, probably involving calculations and moves that would crush my tiny brain like a walnut.

It was very cool to see the team that built Ello, working on Ello. These are the makers that enable the next level of makers.”

Thanks Jamie, it is very cool to see Mode Set through your lens.

 

jim salzano’s personal project, part 1

When Jim Salzano was concepting for a new personal project in which he could combine still photographs and motion, he started to look into women’s professions that have been traditionally reserved for men. He found a boxer, a butcher, and a construction worker.

I was looking for a topic that was not only visually interesting but socially relevant,” says Jim.

The series was launched earlier this month with a video featuring professional boxer Patty Alcivar. Jim found Patty via a recommendation from Men’s Health Creative Director Jeff Griffith; the magazine had profiled her in a series featuring urban athletes and Jeff thought she’d be a good candidate for the project.

Jim says that as he started a dialogue with Patty, he learned she was also a survivor of child abuse and views her boxing as empowering therapy. “I consider myself a fighter. I’ve had many challenges in my life, and that’s what motivates me,” Patty says.

Realizing a project like this is not as simple as finding a subject and turning on the camera; Jim was supported by a number of people and organizations. His former first assistant and favorite collaborator John Engstrom, now the owner of Scheimpflug Digital in New York City, provided the equipment and served as a second director of photography on the project. Engstrom also helped implement an agreement with Broncolor for use of their new Para 330FB light.

Trinity Boxing Club in Manhattan generously provided the space to shoot.  Long-time business partner Ray Benjamin edited the piece, Jim Farmer provided the sound design and Ellen Salzano scripted the narrative. Jim says everyone on the team has been extremely supportive, and he looks forward to completing the next two projects with the construction worker and the butcher. If everything falls into place, he could add several additional professions turning it into a much longer term project.

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