Meet photographer and APA member, Michael Larsen of Larsen & Talbert, a husband and wife duo specializing in portraiture and lifestyle photography for over 20 years, working and creating for clients such as Hallmark Channel, Warner Brothers, San Diego Zoo, HGTV, InStyle, Entertainment Weekly and more.
Who are your top 5 favorites that you’re following on Instagram? @two3 Frank Ockenfels 3 @victoriagranof Food Stylist, Artist, Director @shittyrigs @brianmayforreal @thomasallemanphoto
What 3 words describe your photography style? Clean, simple, happy
What do you listen to when you’re shooting? Fleetwood Mac
What inspires you? Great photography, Dramatic Skies, Well Told Stories
What’s your favorite thing about being a photographer? 1. Travel 2. Satisfying clients 100%
When you aren’t making photographs, what other pastimes do you have? Cooking, Travel, Family, Friends
Describe your daily or weekly work habits. (Pre-Covid and currently) Non-Shoot Days: Sit in front of computer and work on business, Pre-Production, Post-Production and explore social media. Shoot Days: Shoot
Who were your biggest influencers? Annie Leibovitz Mathew Rolston Mark Seliger
What was the best piece of advice you were given starting out? “You’ll never make it. It’s too hard.”
What are the current challenges that you face as a photographer? Staying fresh. Getting more work.
What have been some of the highlights and challenges of your career so far? Shooting in Iceland, London, Rome, Hawaii, Mexico, Belgium, Belize, Puerto Rico and all over the US.
What were you doing before you became a Photographer? Film and Photo-Assisting
If you weren’t a Photographer, what would you be doing? Chef or Surgeon
What do you do when you get stuck? Search for inspiration
What is your best advice for your peers? Do your best. Ask for more.
What advice would you give to yourself if you could go back 10 years? Relax. It’ll be fine. Keep Promoting 20 years? Relax. It’ll be fine. Keep Promoting
What is a photographer’s role now that technology has made it so much more accessible to the masses? Providing a consistent product and meeting diverse needs of the client with professionalism and confidence.
What do you see yourself doing in five years? Photography, Videography, Drone
We’re excited to welcome music photographer Pooneh Ghana for a photographic talk and presentation on May 12th at 5 p.m. PDT. Pooneh Ghana was born and raised in Texas and began her journey as a photographer in high school at age 16 traveling to Austin to attend shows/music festivals with some cheap film cameras in hand.
Pooneh then combined her two greatest passions, a love for music and photography, and began her career working as a freelance music photographer using the skills she learned early on by experimenting with photography. Over the years, she’s created stunning film photos while working and touring with various artists including Tame Impala, The Strokes, Beck, Leon Bridges, Angel Olsen, Cage The Elephant, Glass Animals, Courtney Barnett, Idles, and many more.
Her work has also been featured in a variety of publications such as Rolling Stone, NME, WIRED and Pitchfork.
Today Pooneh resides in Los Angeles, California, and continues to enjoy documenting all aspects of the music world and the culture that surrounds it. From shooting for publications to going on tour, she’s grateful to wake up everyday and do what she loves.
Join us for a special online event on Thursday, May 12th at 5 p.m. PDT
Free to APA Members Non-Members: Pay What You Wish. All Proceeds go to the photographer.
Meet San Diego-based advertising and documentary photographer, Rob Hammer.
Do you have a favorite podcast? If we’re strictly focusing on photography-related podcasts then I’d have to say The Candid Frame and Visual Revolutionary. Both of them are very educational.
Who are your top 5 favorites that you’re following on Instagram? I hate Instagram in a lot of ways. It’s a gift and a curse. As far as living photographers, I’m currently getting a lot of inspiration from people like Walter Iooss Jr., Kurt Markus, and Andy Anderson. The rest of the inspiration comes from gallery accounts that share a lot of iconic photography that they represent.
What 3 words describe your photography style? No idea. Never think about that and don’t plan it.
What do you listen to when you’re shooting? It all depends on the client and the type of shoot. If it’s a commercial fitness client then it would probably be some type of Spotify hip-hop playlist or something else that would provide energy. When I’m on the road shooting, it’s a mix of audiobooks, podcasts, country, rap, and rock. If I’m home editing then it’ll be a Spotify ‘Focus’ or ‘Calm’ playlist. I love them for editing because it’s relaxing background noise without any words that keeps you entertained but is never distracting.
What inspires you? Can I just say everything? Photo books are probably the biggest source of inspiration and my collection is starting to get out of control. I can pinpoint a drastic positive change in my own photography/career to when I started incessantly digesting photo books. I also travel a lot and try to visit photo/art galleries whenever possible. They have been great. Seeing different styles of art is so informative. Movies/documentaries are great too. They give me so many visual ideas. Reading has also been an amazing tool for learning different ways to tell a story. Sounds weird to type that, but it’s true. Travel, in general, is inspirational. People are inspirational. You can find inspiration anywhere as long as you’re open to it.
What’s your favorite thing about being a photographer? That’s changed so much over the years and hopefully it continues to change. Early on I photographed a lot of famous athletes and thought that was so cool and figured it was the way you built a name/career for yourself. Then after a few years, I realized it was all bullshit. Now I could care less about photographing anyone famous. The important thing for me is the final result. If a client wants to make interesting images that happen to involve a famous person, then great. Otherwise, I’m just as happy to shoot a no-name that’s into collaborating and making great images. I love making images. I really do. It’s an obsession more than it’s a profession and my favorite place to do that is on the road wandering around America. Not sure what I’d do without the camera. Making photographs of anything is pleasing to me. Whether that’s for a client or images that will never be seen, it doesn’t matter.
When you aren’t making photographs, what other pastimes do you have? Backcountry snowboarding, fly fishing, hunting, backpacking, food, and travel. Most of those still involve making photographs though. There isn’t much separation for me, which is a gift. The only activity I ever put the camera down for is snowboarding. That’s a full checkout. Otherwise, I’ll have anxiety about missing a photo during all of the others. The thing I most recently got into is learning to ride horses.
Describe your daily or weekly work habits. (Pre-Covid and currently) A disorganized wreck.
Who were your biggest influencers? That’s a really long list of which I’ll certainly forget a few names. William Eggleston, William Albert Allard, Fred Herzog, Bresson, Saul Liter, Martin Parr, Alex Webb, Joel Sternfeld, Joel Meyerowitz, Ernst Hass, Andy Anderson, Walter Iooss Jr, Harry Benson, William Klien, Yousuf Karsh, Kurt Markus, John Langmore, David Allen Harvey, Stephen Shore, Frank Hurley, Annie Leibovitz, Dennis Hopper, Wyatt McSpaden, Darius Kinsey, and on and on and on. In order to be good at anything, you have to be a student first and never stop your education. And I don’t mean that in the traditional sense. “School” is a very flawed system that needs a massive change.
What was the best piece of advice you were given starting out? One thing I regret about starting out was that I didn’t do much assisting. At the time I was arrogant and thought I could do it all on my own, young and dumb, so I was never really around other photographers to get that advice from. I never learned much about photography or the business, which held me back a lot. Even now after doing this full time for however many years, I still think about asking people if I can assist. My desire for knowledge is greater than anything right now.
What are the current challenges that you face as a photographer? I’ve always hated marketing so the business side of photography is the biggest challenge for me. And the “business” is always changing. For instance, mailers used to be a way of reaching new clients, but who knows if clients are even in an office anymore so where would you send a mailer? What is the best way to get your work in front of people these days?? Instagram? I have no idea. Setting aside time and energy for advertising has never been a strong point for me but that needs to change.
What have been some of the highlights and challenges of your career so far? Any photographer that is honest will tell you that their career is full of peaks and valleys with really high highs and really low lows. Mine has certainly been that but I’m so grateful for all of the lows, no’s, and downtimes because that’s where you learn the most. In the past, there have been stretches of months and months at a time where the phone just stopped ringing and that’s never good for your head. There are certainly some extremely fun commercial projects I’ve worked on in the past, but the things that stand out the most are the personal projects, simply because of the experiences I had during them and what they lead to afterward. My “Barbershops of America” project was and continues to be really special to me. It started ten years ago documenting traditional barbershops in all 50 states and is still going today. “American Backcourts” has also been a lot of fun and connected me with so many like-minded people. One thing I always find myself grateful for though is the ability to just document things I do with friends and later turn that into a paycheck somehow. This goes back to what I said earlier about not really having a separation between my life and my photography. I photograph what I’m interested/active in and worry about everything else later. I don’t shoot things because I think it will make me money. Clients tend to be drawn to the images because they are real so they’ll end up licensing them. That’s really rewarding.
What were you doing before you became a Photographer? Had a long string of jobs from private investigator, to carpenter, to bartender, and everything in between.
If you weren’t a Photographer, what would you be doing? If I were born a couple hundred years ago it would have been a blast to be a pirate.
What do you do when you get stuck? Exercise.
What is your best advice for your peers? Personal projects. Personal projects. Personal projects. I can’t stress enough how important, in my opinion, personal projects are. Anything of note that’s been gained in my career has been the result of a personal project. They organically connect you with like-minded people/clients. They are incredibly satisfying and take away the need to ‘sell’ yourself. People know you’re genuinely interested because they see the passion in the work. And on top of all that, it’s yours. It’s not just something you did for a one-time, soul-suckin’ paycheck. They are photographs that give you the ability to earn from them for the rest of your life. I try to think about my career in the long run and it’s never been about money. The photographs come first. Money comes later. And when it’s all over I’d rather have built something of my own than look back on a body of work that was only created for big companies to profit from. I’ve been lucky to have a handful of really fun commercial clients that have also brought about great relationships. Most companies don’t give a shit about you though. They just want to get as much from you for as little as possible. So why not create something that’s your own that will cause people/clients to come to you instead of the other way around???
What advice would you give to yourself if you could go back 10 years? 20 years? 1) Don’t be an arrogant prick 2) Don’t go to college. Instead, spend those 4 years assisting and soaking up every bit of real-life knowledge about photography and the business as you possibly can.
What is a photographer’s role now that technology has made it so much more accessible to the masses? Photography has changed so much because of technology but the goal/role of a photographer shouldn’t change in my opinion. Whether you’re shooting for a client or yourself, you should always be striving to make the best images possible and then do whatever you can to get them out in the world and seen by the people that matter.
What do you see yourself doing in five years? Working on my own projects with select commercial projects peppered in along the way. Telling stories. I love telling stories, especially about people/professions that are often overlooked.
Do you have a photography project or series you’re passionate about? Curious what your peers and others think of it? Join APA San Diego for an in-person roundtable on Wednesday, April 6th at 6:30 PM PST, to share your own work and/or to comment on the work of others. Four photographers will be selected to present and discuss their personal photography projects in an in-person critique session. Send us a link to your project and we’ll review and discuss how this work benefits you, your clients and our industry.
WHEN: Wednesday, April 6, 2022 | Roundtable starts at 6 PM
WHERE: 5343 Banks Street, San Diego, CA 92110
COST: Free and Open to All Proof of vaccination is required.
Meet Southern California based photographer and APA member, Paula Watts.
Do you have a favorite podcast? I love podcasts and am always on the lookout for new ones. I’m probably the only person who hasn’t gotten into podcasts but I’ve been devouring audiobooks though. Professional Troublemaker by Luvvie Ajayi Jones is a must for any woman!
Who are your top 5 favorites that you’re following on Instagram? I am loving London based photographer Desiree Mattsson’s work. I love Lindsey Adler and her photo breakdowns, Comedian Celeste Barber for a great laugh, The Female Hustlers for some extra motivation, and AskSternRep because they give so many helpful Q/A’s on the business side of photography.
What 3 words describe your photography style? Clean, elevated, bright
What do you listen to when you’re shooting? It usually ranges anywhere from 90’s hiphop or Beyonce.
What inspires you? A team without egos, collaboration of the minds, artists of all mediums, kindness.
What’s your favorite thing about being a photographer? I love bringing a vision to life with a creative team who all played a role. It truly takes a village and it’s so satisfying to see a campaign come together.
When you aren’t making photographs, what other pastimes do you have? I love to workout and have family time with my husband and 5 year old daughter.
Describe your daily or weekly work habits. (Pre-Covid and currently) I work from home mostly (pre covid and currently) unless I’m on set. Since my work is project-based, I have weeks where I’m doing a lot of marketing and the business work and then I have weeks where I’m in pre-pro meetings and scheduling plus I also have weeks on set or dealing with post-production. It varies depending on the job and deadlines. I wish I could tell you there was any sort of routine, and it’s not a negative or unorganized answer, it’s just the nature of the industry.
Who were your biggest influencers? I was and still am influenced by a lot of the greats… Richard Avedon, Annie Leibowitz, Herb Ritts, Irving Penn. I studied under Michael Thompson who directly studied under Irving Penn and there was such a refinement in everything they did. Yes, deadlines are deadlines and we all feel rushed in certain aspects, but attention to detail, interaction with your subject, lighting, it was all so flawless.
What was the best piece of advice you were given starting out? Shoot often. Shoot personal projects and constantly refine your work.
What are the current challenges that you face as a photographer? Marketing feels like a moving target a lot of times.
What have been some of the highlights and challenges of your career so far? Highlights: One of my first years in business, I was hired to travel around Norway for 3 weeks to photograph some of their top chefs and dishes and learn all about Norwegian cuisine for a television show. It was even more remarkable of an experience than I can describe, and just starting out at the time, I don’t think I even realized how amazing the gig was. It set the bar and expectations of future projects really high 😉 Challenges: I need to get better at realizing the ebbs and flows of my industry. When things are slow for a couple weeks, I need to learn to enjoy that time so that when things are really busy, I have had some restful and rejuvenating time in there too. Learning balance is easier said than done.
What were you doing before you became a Photographer? Studying advertising photography and assisting photographers. 🙂
If you weren’t a Photographer, what would you be doing? Well some options I’ve considered have been: scuba diving instructor in the GBR, surgeon with Doctors without Borders or skydiving instructor. I still think I could do all 3 in this lifetime, right? 😉
What do you do when you get stuck? I’m a verbal processor so I usually talk with my husband or family or a close friend.
What is your best advice for your peers? This industry is 90% business and 10% photography. The best photographer in the world won’t get hired if no one knows about them. Market yourself even when you’re too busy. (I’m speaking to myself here too!)
What advice would you give to yourself if you could go back 10 years? 20 years? Buy as much property in Southern California as you can possibly afford and outsource all the things you aren’t great at!
What is a photographer’s role now that technology has made it so much more accessible to the masses? A great photographer is so much more than a button-clicker to a piece of equipment. We are communicators. We are a creative voice. We help strategize, give input in the creative ideation, we are experts in lighting and understand a vision and help interpret it. There’s a whole process that the masses who buy a camera won’t hone in on.
What do you see yourself doing in five years? I still see myself as an advertising photographer. I’m always striving for quality projects over quantity and more time with my family, so I hope I’m heading in that direction year by year.
Thank you APA. You’re such a support to the photographic community and I am honored to be interviewed by you!
To view more of Paula’s beautiful work you can follow along here.
There is nothing more important or impactful than a strong, curated presentation: an edit that successfully acts as the visual embodiment of your work. Building an edit to perfectly speak to your strengths as a photographer can be incredibly daunting. It’s not easy, but the good news is that APA San Diego has invited Beth Huerta from Candace Gelman & Associates to teach an exclusive online workshop on best practices in editing. Beth will share some tools that can be mastered to ease this critical practice: a practice that is both art and science.
Beth brings serious academic know-how and street credibility to the process of creating a killer edit for any need, whether it be a digital portfolio review, treatment, or customized PDF.
In this online workshop, Beth will cover the topics including:
· What Constitutes an Effective Edit?
· Identity and Cohesion
· Knowing Your Audience
· The Art and Science of Self Editing
· How To Talk About Your Work
By attending this online event you can learn the skills necessary to take your edits to the next level. Join us on Saturday, April 23rd from 10:00 am – 12 pm
Students with valid ID can receive discounted admission. Contact email@example.com for code.
About Beth Huerta
Prior to CG&A, Beth worked as a consultant/assistant for a bevy of internationally acclaimed advertising photographers including Howard Schatz, Theo Westenberger, William Huber and Stephanie Rausser. Beth is a frequent workshop presenter and contributing writer for the American Photographic Artists association. She has taught at Drexel University (where a course that she authored is now a permanent part of the BS in Photography curriculum) and The University of the Arts, and has been a guest instructor at Columbia College. Beth is also a Mentor for NYC Salt, a program that creates opportunities in photography for underserved New York City youth.
For Nick Nacca, image-making isn’t capturing a moment in time, it’s several moments combined. When it comes to lighting, he’s a super control freak. Not just on set – later, in a dim room he builds an image from the ground up. Blending, shaping, and sculpting with light is at the heart of his process. What started out as a technique to control light in still life photography has morphed into a unique way to create motion.
Join us on Saturday, February 19th, 2022 from 10am – 12pm for an online lighting workshop.
During the event, Nick will show behind-the-scenes images & videos detailing his approach to lighting and the gear he uses. Later he’ll show the post-production workflow used to create stills and motion from the same image.
Be sure to check out Nick’s demo reel below:
Cost: APA Members $25, NON-Member $40
Not a member? Join Now! Annual Memberships start at $50!
Meet San Diego based landscape and nature photographer and APA member, Jermaine Beckley.
Do you have a favorite podcast? I don’t consistently listen to podcasts, but during lockdown I would listen to a lot of Jim Kwik during my walks outdoors.
Who are your top 5 favorites that you’re following on Instagram? I follow Dan Winters because I’ve always enjoyed his work, but I get my inspiration from @Kodak, @Ilfordphoto, and other hashtags I follow mostly.
What do you listen to when you’re shooting? I don’t usually listen to music while shooting, but I’ll listen to mellow sounds to get me in the mood while driving to where I want to shoot.
What inspires you? Nature inspires me. The more I learn about it the more fascinated I am about how similar everything is.
What’s your favorite thing about being a photographer? Seeing a potential image everywhere I go.
When you aren’t making photographs, what other pastimes do you have? Music, bowling, working on my vehicle, however most of the time if I’m not making a photograph, I’m thinking about how to make the next photograph. I can’t turn it off.
Describe your daily or weekly work habits. (Pre-Covid and currently) I honestly think Pre-Covid my routine was all over the place. Now it’s more scheduled and I’m more focused and not taking things for granted.
Who were your biggest influencers? In life, it’s my dad. In photography and I know it’s cliche, but Ansel Adams, Gordon Parks, and Vivian Maier. I love their stories and storytelling.
What was the best piece of advice you were given starting out? Study art and not just photography.
What have been some of the highlights and challenges of your career so far? Having one of my photographs sold at an auction was a pretty cool experience. The challenges were trying to shoot everything instead of focusing on one genre.
What were you doing before you became a Photographer? I served in the US Navy for 20 years, however photography was picked up during that time.
If you weren’t a Photographer, what would you be doing? I probably would have been a musician as I played music most of my childhood.
What do you do when you get stuck? I’m always learning and sometimes I go back and look at some of my images I didn’t think too highly of with a fresh set of eyes.
What is your best advice for your peers? Learn your gear! Great photographs are still being made with old technology. You can’t buy your way into getting better at seeing light.
What advice would you give to yourself if you could go back 10 years? 20 years? I wish I had found a mentor when I first started in the 90s to help me learn how to see. I’m still fascinated by photographers back in the day who have produced incredible imagery without things like YouTube and online courses.
What is a photographer’s role now that technology has made it so much more accessible to the masses? I still believe the still image is incredible and I still believe teaching others about composition helps to tell the story.
What do you see yourself doing in five years? I hope to have an exhibition within the next five years. It will take hard work, but I’m up for the challenge.
To view more of Jermaine’s work you can follow along here.
It’s time again for our annual guide to what photography fans want most. Whether you’re looking for something new for yourself or maybe that photographer in you life, we’ve got something for everyone. We put together this handy guide to share some ideas (or make it easy to share this wishlist).
Book Legendary skate photographer and APA|SD member J. Grant Brittain‘s first book “PUSH” is out and ready to order. Brittain’s work spans decades and focuses on the evolution of the Southern California skate scene from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. With a forward by Tony Hawk and 224 pages of images from the analog era, it’s sure to please any skateboarder or action sports photographer on your list.
Bags and Packs Think Tank bags and packs have been a longtime favorite around here and they keep innovating with some of the best gear protection and stylish comfort out there. From small shoulder bags to full function backpacks and airline-ready rolling cases, there’s a Think Tank bag for everyone. APA members can receive discounts and additional benefits, so check out your members discount page for details.
Cameras and Gear For local San Diego gear and services, we proudly support our retail sponsors, George’s Camera and Nelson Photo Supplies. Both shops have been serving our photo community for decades and carry all of the pro gear you need and trust. Visit them for cameras, lighting, sensor cleaning services, rental gear, printing and film supplies. Don’t forget, your APA membership gets you some great in-store discounts. Support local!
Print Service Speaking of local, Chrome Digital in Little Italy is our go-to shop for beautiful art print work. A friendly and helpful staff of technicians can help you create prints of all sizes and mediums. Want to print on wood or metal? They can do that. Super large format? Yup. Stop in the shop and check out the nearly limitless possibilities.
Big Light, Small Package Our recent Untitled competition and exhibition yielded some truly inspiring work and the winners walked away with a bevy of great prizes. Lumecube graciously stepped up with some waterproof LED kits to give away and we were not disappointed. These little light cubes are so versatile, they shouldn’t be limited to photographers. Powerful, waterproof, and about the size of a golfball, they can be mounted on your DSLR, video rig, bike handlebars, helmet, or anywhere you need a compact light. Need more compact LED option? They also make panels, drone lights, workspace and ring lights. Check them out!
Experience Looking to gift a little inspiration? An annual membership to MOPA is an excellent way to give an experience to your favorite art lover (maybe that’s you?) The Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa park holds a special distinction as one of only three museums in the nation dedicated solely to lens-based medium. APA members receive special discounts for an annual pass. While you’re at it, take a spin through the gift shop for unique photocentric gifts, apparel, and books.
More inspiration: A gift of Luerzer’s Archive magazine will thrill the commercial artist in your life. The photo annual is considered one the most important publications in the industry – a triple shot of inspiration.
Communication Arts magazine focuses on the high level creative work and unpacks trends, highlights artists and agencies, and delivers several curated annuals in all things visual communications. A valuable resource for the commercial creative.
Frank Ockenfels 3‘s book “Volume 3” (teNeues Press) is a bold, edgy, and introspective collection of his personal work. Curated from Ockenfel’s journals, the photos, collages, drawings, and paintings tell an inside story of an artist overflowing with ideas and concepts. It’s a visual journey that will surely open your eyes to something new in your own artistic path. If you were fortunate enough to attend his presentation at MOPA in January 2020, you know what a dynamic force in photography he is.
Community Lastly, if you are looking to give the gift of community, inspiration, and education, look no further than APA. With your membership you give a gift to yourself; a gift of support, camaraderie, learning, advocacy, and most of all, you give back to the photo community you so dearly love. Please help support APA by upgrading, renewing, or joining. We sincerely appreciate your membership.
Have a safe and wonderful holiday season and a plentiful and prolific New Year. See you in 2022!