Thank You. All Of You.

I want to take a moment to officially announce that Profiles in Photography is no longer active. I put the site and its social media accounts on “hiatus” in April 2018 and haven’t written or researched any profiles since. Now that it’s been on hiatus much longer than it was active, I feel confident enough to say that I have accomplished what I wanted to accomplish with it, and that unless I’m hit with a sudden jolt of inspiration, I don’t plan on writing any profiles for the foreseeable future. You may notice I’ve slightly changed a few things about the site’s design, but rest assured that Profiles in Photography will remain online under its current URL, and the email account (profilesinphotography at gmail dot com) will remain active. If you want to read things I write in the future, I recently created a Substack account, though I haven’t really set it up beyond that.

(I may end up converting the WordPress site to a free account, which means I’d lose the custom domain name, but I think I can ask my domain-name registrar to redirect all links to the most current version of the site. I’d just have to make sure that links to specific pages would still work.)

For those of you in the photography community, please be assured that I made this decision solely for personal reasons. Every time I got an email from a publicist, every time I had to put “Founder/editor, Profiles in Photography (on hiatus)” on a résumé, I’d feel an uncomfortable little jolt in the pit of my stomach. What was I going to do about the site? I’d made vague gestures regarding its return a month after I started the hiatus, but hadn’t said a word since.

What I didn’t entirely want to admit to myself was that I am a different person than I was when I started the site four years ago. In the spring of 2017, I wasn’t sure if I wanted photography or writing to take precedence as my main creative pursuit. Through writing profiles of contemporary photographers I admired, I hoped that I could do a little bit of both. Over time, however, it became clear that writing was always going to take precedence. As a consequence, I am now much less immersed in the photography world than I was in 2017–2018—those of you who followed my photography account may have noticed that I deactivated it a little over a year ago—and I don’t think it would be fair or prudent for a relative outsider to be writing the kinds of profiles that I’d wanted to write.

I’m very proud of what I’ve written here. A few weeks ago I went back and read some of the profiles and was surprised at how well they held up. Of course there were things that I wanted to change—show me a writer who doesn’t want to revise any of their old stuff and I’ll show you a liar—but I was mostly happy with what I saw. (I would, however, retitle “Making It Compelling” as “Making It Mildly More Interesting Than The Average Snapshot.”)

On a less narcissistic note, I am grateful for everyone who has read or shared my writing on here. I am grateful to everyone in the photography community who helped connect me with the photographers I profiled on here, whether through telling me about them directly or featuring their work on your Instagram accounts or websites. And I am especially grateful to every photographer I profiled for taking what, in retrospect, was a pretty big gamble. You assumed that a nineteen-year-old with a nonexistent résumé, no real bylines, and two rejection letters from his college newspaper to his name would be a competent enough writer to do their work justice. You took time out of your day, sometimes even meeting up in person or talking on the telephone, to answer that nineteen-year-old’s incessant questions. I take inspiration from you every single day: from your artistry, your incredible work ethic, and your generosity of time and spirit.

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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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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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”


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.

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Profile No. 12—Morgane Erpicum

Morgane Erpicum moved back to her native Brussels three years ago, after living and working in New Zealand for one year. “[It was] a weird place to grow up,” she wrote. Everyone seemed to know everyone, but only on a superficial level, and she never felt like she belonged. In her words, “[I] did not fit in the box, though God knows I tried and tried.” She graduated from high school at sixteen (most Belgians graduate at eighteen) and attended medical school for one year until moving to the U.K. to study osteopathy. Her father was an osteopath, she said, and growing up, it felt like a career in healthcare or the sciences was the only way to dependably support herself. Though she enjoyed art, she wrote, she “did not dare] bring up career choices such as graphic design” to her parents. “I was not artistically talented enough, nor could I ever dream of being financially independent in such a field.”

After graduating, she and her husband moved from the U.K. to New Zealand, where she worked for some time until moving back to Brussels. Though she initially felt averse to the idea of moving back, New Zealand was simply too far away. “We came back with the idea of exploring different locations and finding our home on earth,” she wrote; they wanted to have “an easy home base while travelling and working.”

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Profile No. 11—Ed Freeman

Above: from “Desert Realty.”

You’ve probably already come into contact with Ed Freeman’s work, albeit not the sort of work I’m writing about. After dropping out of Oberlin College in the late 1960s to pursue his dream of being a musician, he was signed to Capitol Records. “That didn’t go anywhere,” he said, until he ran into a friend who was connected to Columbia Records. His friend mentioned that Columbia was about to record another singer-songwriter, and asked Freeman if he wanted to produce the album.

That record, the first he ever produced, was Don McLean’s American Pie. The eponymous single achieved #1 positions on charts in America, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, and the album itself topped the Billboard 200 chart for a month and a half until it was dethroned by Neil Young’s Harvest. Freeman continued to produce records until the 1980s. Production, he later told me, was never something he intended to do for the rest of his career; he wanted to create something on his own.

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Profile No. 10—J.M. Giordano

Photo of J.M. Giordano by Sean Scheidt. All other photographs by J.M. Giordano and used with his permission.

“They literally rolled over me; just left me there.” That was what J.M. Giordano told me last July when I asked him about an incident in late April 2015 that received international coverage, where he was knocked to the ground by a group of Baltimore police while trying to photograph the protests and unrest that had been going on since the late afternoon.

Earlier in the night, he had driven into West Baltimore with Sait Serkan Gurbuz, a Reuters photographer; and Baynard Woods, a journalist who worked together with Giordano at City Paper. They stayed close together until they found themselves between a group of twenty or thirty protestors and a group of sixty or seventy police, who, as they charged at the protestors, collided with the two photographers. The police arrested Gurbuz and almost arrested Giordano until Woods intervened, shouting, “He’s a photographer! He’s press!” until they relented.

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Profile No. 9—Nick Sabatalo and 35mm Magazine

Nick shooting Charlotte. All photographs by Peter W. Coulson; see note at end for full credits.

“Oh, that’s good. Nice. Amazing. Who are you?”

It’s 10:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning and Nick Sabatalo is shooting Charlotte, a model visiting the States from her native France, as she poses by the window of his private studio. She is young enough that in another life, she would be a year or two ahead of me in college, but in real life she’ll soon be featured in 35mm Magazine, the all-film fashion magazine that Sabatalo founded two years ago. Her mother sits on a couch at the opposite end of the room, watching closely and occasionally translating Sabatalo’s directions. (“Turn to the left.” “À gauche, Charlotte.“)

Charlotte is the first of four models Sabatalo plans on shooting that day. Some time earlier, their agency had commissioned him to do a series of test shoots: new models like Charlotte need a professional-quality portfolio that their agency can keep on hand, and one way to do that is for the agency to hire an experienced photographer like Sabatalo to spend a few hours shooting them in various looks. In some instances, such as this one, the looks are picked out by a professional stylist: in this case, Kris Tsvetkova, better known as @krisviva on Instagram, who had styled and modelled for Sabatalo several times in the past.

Continue reading “Profile No. 9—Nick Sabatalo and 35mm Magazine”