Profile No. 16—Lolo Bates

In an interview I conducted with her last month, Lolo Bates emphasized the role of place in her work. She’s lived in three major cities so far, Chicago, London, and Los Angeles; all three, she said, have affected her photographs. Chicago was the first. She grew up in the area, surrounded, as she said, by “a lot of supportive artistic friends.” Their support, she explained, figured highly in her early artistic pursuits.

This included photography, but she only began to practice it very seriously when she began studying at the University of the Arts London. This came a few years into after she began working in fashion styling, as she explained to Polaroid Originals Magazine; initially, she had thought she would only study fashion, but as soon as she gave fashion photography a try, she fell in love with it. “London [was] where I really learned photography and how to be creative,” she told me. “My more raw and emotional work comes from there.”

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Statement on Sexual Misconduct

Please read this statement in full before contacting me about it. — P.W.C.

A few months ago, a former model (@shitmodelmgmt on Instagram) began compiling a list of, in her words, “people in the fashion industry that I SUGGEST models avoid, because I have been told that they have acted sexually inappropriate to models [emphasis in original].”

[ADDENDUM (5 March 2018): the author of the list has decided to take it down after receiving death threats against herself and her family.]

A list of names followed; names with an asterisk next to them had been sent to the administrator on three or more separate occasions. Nick Sabatalo’s name is on that list, with an asterisk.

I debated for some time what to do about the profile I wrote on him last September. I admit I initially had slight misgivings about the list. As the administrator explained, sexually inappropriate behavior encompassed everything from pressuring models into nude shoots to making advances to rape. Still, inappropriate behavior is inappropriate behavior. This statement should not be construed as a suggestion that I know exactly what Sabatalo may or may not have done. Rather, it’s two things. At this point, it’s mostly an explanation of why I left the profile standing. I briefly considered removing it from the site, but I rejected that as self-serving and disrespectful. I fully own up to what I wrote. Sabatalo was, as I said in the acknowledgments, very kind and generous towards me. All of that is true; I didn’t write that because I thought I had to.

The operative phrase, however, is “towards me.” As the blacklist administrator said in an interview, “everyone has a different experience [with persons accused of misconduct]. They’re like, ‘Oh my god, that is my friend. I go hiking with him every weekend. He would never do that.’ It’s like, I’m so happy that he hasn’t assaulted you, but clearly he did someone to else.” I leave the profile mostly standing with a link to this note, because doing otherwise would be to pretend that I always knew of the allegations against Sabatalo and that I had never supported him. This is obviously not true. I admit fully that until now, I had supported a problematic person. I do not intend to do so again.

If allegations are made against any other past subjects, I will leave their profiles standing with a link to this post. I consider this somewhat akin to what some art museums have been quietly doing to plaques for paintings by or of problematic individuals: mentioning below a Founding Father’s portrait, for example, that he may have said some very nice and eloquent things about liberty, but was also an unrepentant slaveholder. I intend to leave the profile standing entirely as a record of something I wrote that I think is well-written, while also making it clear that I no longer support the individual about whom it was written.

This post should also be understood as a general statement on sexual misconduct. It is an enormous problem in the fashion industry and I applaud all who are working to end it and to break the silence surrounding it.

I’ve turned off comments, but if you still have questions or something you’d like to say, you can email profilesinphotography [at] gmail [dot] com. I will keep all correspondence completely confidential, regardless of its subject matter.

Peter W. Coulson, Editor-in-Chief

4 March 2018

As I said before: I will not respond to any emails whose authors did not read the full statement

[There used to be a link here to the list, but as I said before the author of the list took t down after receiving death threats against herself and her family. I have an archived version saved. I won’t post it here; email me if you want a copy.]

National resources for sexual assault survivors: https://www.rainn.org/national-resources-sexual-assault-survivors-and-their-loved-ones

The National Sexual Assault Hotline Telephone Hotline is 800.656.4673. More information on it can be found here.

What to do if you’ve been sexually harassed: http://www.feminist.org/911/harasswhatdo.html

A list of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (E.E.O.C.) field offices: https://www.eeoc.gov/field/

Profile No. 15—Fredrik Augustsson

Fredrik Augustsson began taking photographs eight years ago, prompted by a friend’s purchase of a camera. “I saw that it was a great way to meet new and interesting people,” he said in an email. Human connection has since remained an important factor in his fashion and portrait photography, but I’m getting ahead of myself.  For the last four of those eight years, he worked in the photography industry in some capacity, spending three years as an assistant before going, in his words, “complete freelance and actually [living] on my photography.” He estimated that this happened sometime within the last year.

Before that, he attended the now-defunct Gamleby School of Photography in Stockholm, where he is from and is currently based. Though he didn’t talk much about his home country in the interview, his current style of photography seems, to me, very Scandinavian, almost the photographic equivalent of Scandinavian minimalist fashion. The work that he and his creative teams put out is straightforward and honest, but always has at least a touch of the avant-garde, sometimes even the fantastical: a sudden shock of blue eyeliner; a loose necklace of flowers in an otherwise tightly-controlled studio environment; a direct, almost accusatory glare from a buzz-cut model.

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The Next Few Months

I had to briefly deactivate our IG page again just because I was going to France and wanted to spend as little time as possible dicking around on my phone. But we’re back. I have three important announcements:

(1) The actual profiles will return (!), probably sometime in mid-February. I’ve got a list of about five or six people I’m going to get in touch with very soon. And you can always recommend people I might have overlooked by emailing profilesinphotography at gmail dot com or DMing @profilesinphotography.

(2) Profiles will no longer be published at strict intervals. Instead of every other Tuesday, I’m going to pick out a series of publication dates in advance and post those dates somewhere on the site.

(3) As I kind of hinted at last month, there will be a zine, probably sometime in late spring. The call for submissions will be put out around the same time as the next profile. (I’d like to get it printed before mid-May, partly because it would be cool for it to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the site but mainly because I want to print it for free on the color copier at school.)

If you’ve got any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments or through Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.

Profile No. 14—Brian Ziff

“I grew up in Los Angeles,” Brian Ziff wrote last October, and added, “It probably doesn’t show in my work…I think that people who move here have a romanticized notion of it and tend to feed that back into what they create when they get here.” If the place he grew up didn’t have much of an effect on his work, one particular experience in his youth did. He brought a disposable camera on a trip to London and took pictures of “various historical sites.” When he got the pictures developed, he showed them to his father, who said that “if he wanted to see pictures of [historical sites] he could have just looked at a postcard.”

“That’s probably where I adopted the notion that a photo without a person in it isn’t worth taking,” Ziff said. He’s been shooting fashion professionally for the last nine years (though he mentioned he only became “obsessive” about photography three years ago), preferring that style partly out of his own interest in fashion itself and partly out of his ideas of what his photography should be. “I’m not really interested in honesty within art,” he said. “The fantasy is much more compelling to me. Fashion photography — the kind that I like — is pure fantasy.” Continue reading “Profile No. 14—Brian Ziff”

Hiatus

TL;DR: I’m taking a brief hiatus. Our IG is live again. More info below.

As I said in my note at the end of Brian Ziff’s profile, and in the TL;DR above, I’m going to be taking a hiatus for a while. I enjoy writing the profiles and running the site, and for the first few months, it didn’t really feel like work.

All of that changed when I went back to college for my sophomore year. My workload became far more intense than I had anticipated, and as I started to fall behind on site work, I started to realize just how much time I spent online over the summer. Even if something doesn’t feel like work, it’s still, well, work, insofar as it’s an activity that requires a consistent amount of your time and engaged participation, and it can be hard to maintain such a level when there are a thousand other things competing for your attention. And, as I found out again and again since last September, maintaining this level is damn nigh impossible when the things competing for your attention are major assignments that can really fuck you over if left neglected.

Why, then, should my hiatus coincide largely with my winter break? Several reasons, the first and foremost of which is that I need some time to rethink where I want to go with this site and my non-school career. Some of you may know that I’m trying to shift some of my creative energies into portraiture, and arranging shoots at this level of my career is more logistically challenging than you might think. For another, I’ll be travelling a bit more than usual, including six days in France, which I had been trying and failing to arrange for about three years now.

This hiatus will last until late January. Before then, I’ll still be doing the occasional repost on our Instagram account; however, from 6-18 December, the @profilesinphotography Instagram account will be deactivated. This does not mean that I deleted the account. Instead, it’ll just be inactive. These dates coincide with finals week, and I need to focus on finishing strong.

Profile No. 13–Priscilla C. Scott

“I’m an art school dropout…this is what it looks like,” Priscilla Scott said to me over drinks last September. We had been talking for a while about her teenage years and early adulthood, when she first started taking pictures. It was in high school in San Jose, California that she began taking pictures on assignment — specifically, she was on the yearbook staff, an experience she didn’t care for. “[The faculty leader] expected so much from a creative-artistic view,” she said, but he didn’t offer much mentorship. He would complain that the staff’s photographs were insufficiently candid, that they were just posed pictures of people’s friends. For better or for worse, though, yearbook was where Scott learned about taking unposed pictures of people.

She finished high school in Fresno, and after graduating, she moved with her high school boyfriend to Los Angeles, where he was due to start college at California State University, Northridge. “I hated living in Fresno, and I just wanted to get out of a small town,” she told me. “There wasn’t anything there.” That was twelve years ago, and today she says she considers Los Angeles home.

Continue reading “Profile No. 13–Priscilla C. Scott”