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Focal Points: Shannon McIntyre

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Shannon McIntyre is a seasoned photographer with an extensive track record for consistently delivering immaculate pieces of work for her various clients. Her eye for inducing and capturing emotion on film makes her work exude personality and attitude that is ideal for any ad or campaign, a major reason why Shannon’s clients continually request her for additional productions. While she may be a sharp-shooting ace behind the lens, Shannon’s kind and open demeanor instills a positive force on set that resonates with her subjects.

Q&A

Q1. How did a girl growing up on a commune in Tennessee discover a passion for photography?

A. My dad was an amateur photographer, and had a home dark room, pre-commune, so we had these big boxes of beautiful black and white fiber prints around us growing up. He also still had his Nikon F which we shot with occasionally. The commune had a dark room in the book publishing company and I remember hanging out in it when I was probably around ten, learning about the process.

Q2. What is your camera of choice? Your “go-to” camera for client shoots?

A. To keep my photographs feeling spontaneous I like my equipment to be fairly minimal. On a client job I also want to shoot with the camera that I shoot with every day, that is second nature to me, and right now that camera is a Canon 5D Mark II. A new version of the 5D did just came out though, so my camera of choice might change very soon. Every photographer has their recipe, so to speak, to help them arrive at the look and feel similar to that in their portfolio, and for me the camera is a small, albeit, important, part of that recipe. Lighting expertise, retouching knowledge, an ability to get a quick read on people, many years spent shooting professionally; these are some of the other ingredients that I bring to the table.

Q3. What were some of the challenges you faced early on in your career as a professional photographer?

A. My youth. Ha ha! I was twenty three when I started shooting professionally, so, as you can expect, not everyone wanted to take me seriously. Now that I have some experience behind me, I think I might be biased against a twenty three year old too!

Q4. When you’re on a shoot, what separates a good shoot from a great one?

A. Whoever I’m collaborating with on a shoot. On a client-based job, I need to produce a product that works for the client, but also satisfies me creatively, which will in the end make a better image. The art director is the interpreter of this process, so it’s really great if we work well together and the AD has a good idea of what is possible within the confines of a shoot. When I have a good rapport going with my collaborator, he or she is able to give me ideas that I wouldn’t have thought of and vice versa. A wonderful synergy happens and everyone is happy.

Q5. What was your reaction when you first saw one of your shots in a national ad or display used by your client?

I would like to say that it was a glorious moment, but like most creative personalities, I probably thought something along the lines of ‘that printing doesn’t look so great’. I’m always a little bit critical, especially when it comes to my own work.

Q6. Tell us more about your portfolio entitled “Food And People”?

A. I’ve been shooting people since I started my career, but didn’t get into shooting food until a few years ago. I cook a lot, and while I’m cooking I have these moments of ‘ohh, look at that texture, or, what an amazing color, I have to capture that…’ I challenge myself to bring the same vibe of my people work–one of authenticity, spontaneity, a little bit sexy–into my food work. There is celebration in our every day preparing and eating of food–I’m always trying to capture that and make it fun to look at.

Q7. Knowing what you know now, would you change anything about your overall progression as a photographer?

A. I would have shot food a lot sooner.

Q8. Do you have a favorite shooting location? Somewhere you relish the opportunity to shoot at?

A. Each job calls for something different, so that place is forever changing. I try to find locations that have a sense of place without being too specific, an earthiness to them without being ragged looking, and are also simple and clean, graphically speaking. In general, my photographs are more about the subjects in them than the location, so the ideal location is a place that best frames and tells a story about the subject.

Q9. Who was your all-time favorite client to work with thus far?

A. DJ Stout at Pentagram (the client was Lands’ End, but they were not there). DJ has the curiosity of a kid at a photo shoot, with the knowledge of someone who has been working with photographers for a very long time. He is also an amazing designer and brings a lot of great ideas to the shoot. We all worked pretty hard during those shoots, and we got a lot of great images.

Q10. What exciting projects or assignments have you recently wrapped up?

A. I just finished a job with Anthem WW for Safeway. We shot lifestyle – a nature loving couple at home, and product in that environment too. And before that I worked on lifestyle and food photos for NatureBox. We did a series of images for them to boost their brand and had a great time shooting here in Oakland and in San Francisco.

Click below to see more of Shannon’s work:

view her work

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Love Is In The Air

Illustrator Randy South is in the mood of love just in time for Valentines Day. He created a 2-Dimensional City Of Love themed from the authentic City of Love, Paris. Check out his animated short featuring two young couples and a pair of “digi-poodles”.

Pablo and George find love in Montmarte in the city of love.

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article blog

Corporate Collaboration

In a recent collaboration with State Street Global Advisors, a gobal finaincial advisory company, Illustrator Filip Yip created 10 drawing illustrations to accompany the visual elements of the new SSGA website. These illustrative pieces feature subtle elements that relate to their perspective topic and include symbols such as puzzle pieces, chess pieces, a compass, a telescope and a map, just to name a few. Below are the pieces as they appear on the SSGA website.

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Pet Part-Y!

Written By: Mark Rogers

Pet Photography is not the sort of profession you’d think could ever not be challenging or interesting (it isn’t). However, it is easy to occasionally fall into a rut, so I find it vitally important to regularly throw in new variables to keep things fresh. Sometimes these are one-shoot-only deals such as using only one lens for the whole day. Occasionally I do things over an extended period like shooting at the same location 10 times to see how different I can make it look for each.

For 2015 I want to go even further and chase a theme for the entire year. Even try to make it a part of every pet session I do. I’ll check in with you periodically along the way and then at year’s end put something together that shows off what we got. What I need from you is a little help narrowing it down to one thing.

Over the years I’ve casually fixated on specific pet parts: paws, ears, eyes (even butts) and included them in the set of shots I offer clients. For 2015 I want to choose one part and stick with it.

So help me out. Will it be the year of the nose? the tail? Something else. Here are some shots from the last few years to get those juices flowing.

Please post comments on Facebook or Email me directly. In the meantime, be sure to check out my Blog for exclusive stories and exciting developments.

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blog interview z_focalpoint

Focal Points: Shane Johnson

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An illustrator truly cut from a different “canvas”, Shane’s technique is a medley of vibrant, colorful, and action-oriented tones that breathe life into his pieces of work. Unlike the techniques of his contemporaries, his comic-book style approach is a refreshing change of pace that incorporates the traditional necessities of clients with a modern appearance capable of grabbing the attention of audiences both young and old.

Q&A

Q1. Your illustrative style is slightly different than the other illustrators of Freda Scott Creative. Describe in your words what makes your artistic style so unique?

A. My art style is inspired by comics and other forms of sequential storytelling so it’s more narrative and action oriented. Very little of what I do tends to be abstract or conceptual.

Q2. What served as a source of inspiration in your growth as an illustrator?

A. My primary inspiration is my love of comics, cartoons and movies. My other interests such as science, history and the outdoors also find their way into my work.

Q3. What project or client was your “big break”?

A. There are two individuals in particular. in 1997, a year after graduating from college I landed my very first freelance job Illustrating a ghost story collection for Hawaii author Glen Grant. His book provided me with my first published portfolio pieces and gave me the experience I needed to pursue illustration as a career.

In 2001 my friend’s father Tom Speitel was working as head of the Education Department at the University of Hawaii. Tom brought me on board as a contractor to work with his team creating distance education websites for the Department of Defense. We spent two weeks in Germany meeting with educators to help deliver their online curriculum. The experience inspired me to quit my day job and begin freelancing full-time.

Q4. Is your art digitally created or do you go by hand? Which do you prefer?

A. I prefer to start out with hand drawn pencils. These are scanned and inked digitally using a Wacom tablet and Manga Studio. I then add color and effects in Adobe Photoshop. Much of my work is also done as vector art in Adobe Illustrator if the project calls for it. I’ve come to appreciate working this way as it makes it much easier to make revisions. And I revise a lot before the client even sees it.

Q5. As an illustrator that works in a graphic novel artistic style, what are some of the pro’s and cons of today’s comics, in your opinion.

A. In general I think the bar is set much higher regarding the quality of comic art and writing compared to when I started collecting 30 years ago. It has become a more mainstream form of entertainment. The one weakness I see in the art is more technical or factual errors. This may be because younger comic artists tend to draw reference more from other media than actual life experience.

Q6. What’s your all time favorite comic? Why?

A. I would have to say Mike Mignola’s Hellboy series. The simplicity and dark atmospheric quality of his art and writing have always been kind of a standard to which I compare my own work and other comics.

Q7. What’s your most memorable piece of work? What was it for?

A. In 2004 I designed a mural for the Chicago Marathon. The mural covered three sides of a warehouse near the Kennedy Expressway. The client had me create dozens of runners tearing off their street clothes superhero-style to reveal their running clothes underneath. I have family in Chicago so my wife and I visited them after the mural painters were finished. We drove down the expressway and I snapped photos out of the car window. Part of the artwork was used on a billboard near Wrigley field and we went to see that as well.

Q8. If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

A. My daughter says I have super daddy strength so let’s go with that!

Q9. If you could work on any project/movie/show in the world, what would it be?

I would love to illustrate anything combining my many interests. A sci-fi/ supernatural/ western graphic-novel perhaps.

Q10. Any exciting pieces of work we can look out for in the near future?

A. Yes, but I am sworn to secrecy.

Click below to see more of Shane’s work:

view his work

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article blog

Taxidermy Refreshed

Image Retoucher Rachel Kiseel recently got in touch with her animalistic side in a recent collaboration with one of her longtime clients, The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. In her latest pieces of work, Rachel utilized her retouching expertise to bring life to some of nature’s majestic creatures who have been preserved in time thanks to the art of taxidermy. Within their life-sized dioramas, big horn sheep, kudus, and moose illustrations will be made into prints available for purchase at the museum in the near future. Rachel assured us that she will have one hanging up in her home as soon as they are made available. Check out her flawless edits of the animals below.

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article blog

Weathering The Wild

The World Wildlife Fund has been dedicated to conserving the environment and protecting the welfare of animals since the early ’60s. Of all the threats and potential hazards to their mission, accurate climate predictions on climate change is the most unpredictable. The challenge with accurate predictions is accessing remote areas where much of the world’s wildlife is located, and sense animals don’t readily subscribe to weather reports, a solution was needed. Enter the new technology of Remote Weather Stations.

Remote Weather Stations are fully automated weather detection systems that can record weather data and patterns before uploading them for analysis. Because they can be easily deployed in remote locations, they are ideal systems that are assembled once in the field before tracking data. Our very own Richard Bornemann assisted this vision by creating an illustration detailing the adaptable features of the Remote Weather Station as well as an animation showing a 360 degree view of the system. Check out the video below and click here to view the full article at The World Wildlife Fund Magazine.

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Putting The Nature In NatureBox

Unbeknownst to some, the life of a photographer has it’s share of complications. While most think that planning a photo shoot is as simple as walking outside at high noon and shooting away, real photographers know that it’s a strategic chess match between talent, client, and good ole Mother Nature. Our Shannon McIntyre had a recent bout with Mother Nature in the midst of her photo shoot for her client, a healthy snack subscription service called NatureBox.

After carefully planning a shoot in Oakland for it’s normally sunny skies, Shannon was all but distraught to see that on her scheduled day of shooting, Mother Nature had other plans. Instead of sun and blue skies, Shannon arrived to a drenched Bay Area and had to plan swiftly. After realizing an indoor shoot wouldn’t provide the authentic feel she was shooting for, Shannon decided to stick it out and captured some pretty stellar shots. Check them out below!

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Shane Johnson & Neutrino Man

The American Ingenuity Awards, commonly known as “The Golden Globes Of Intellect” honors ten individuals in nine categories including technology, performing and visual arts, natural and physical sciences, education, historical scholarship, social progress and youth achievement. One of the selected honorees, Physicist Francis Halzen, was featured in a recent issue of The Smithsonian Magazine with graphic illustrations by our Shane Johnson. Read the graphic short below entitled “The Subatomic Adventures Of Neutrino Man” and see the numerous pieces of art Shane designed for the short. Text and text-layout provided by Elizabeth Quill and The Smithsonian Magazine.

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blog interview z_focalpoint

Focal Points: Mark Rogers

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Mark Rogers is an iconic pet photographer with a career built on capturing the personality and emotion of everyday pets and animals. With an ability to connect with and capture the attention of his furry (and sometimes skittish) subjects, Mark is commonly synonymous with the likes of Dr. Dolittle when he’s behind the lens. HIs love for animals is transparently reflected in the immaculate work he delivers day in and day out.

Q&A

Q1. What inspired you to become a prominent pet photographer?

A. When I was 9 or 10 I started shooting with an old Yashika SLR that belonged to my grandfather. The first images I remember taking were of our black cat sitting in some azalea bushes and even though I’ve photographed lots of other subjects other than animals since then, but they’ve always been my first love.

Before I began doing this professionally I volunteered at an animal shelter and the passion for photographing animals really began there. I realized photos that captured the real spirit of these pets helped get them adopted faster and it all evolved from there. When you can blend your volunteerism with your profession and give back it’s pretty amazing and makes it easy to get up every day and work.

Q2. We all know animals are not the most “cooperative”. How do you manage to capture the remarkable photos you’ve shot?

A. It’s a not-so-precise mix of skill, luck and an ability to develop rapport quickly with them. Of course, it also helps to not be self conscious about making a total fool of myself in public – I’m known for barking, meowing, and even bleating like a goat to get a reaction.

Q3. What’s the strangest or most unique animal you have photographed in your career?

A. I worked with a gecko a few years ago in front of the Golden Gate Bridge for a promotional poster – her name was Godzilla. We were completely out in the open and about two feet away from the water’s edge.

Q4. Some say that pets are like people. Do you feel like you possess a special connection with the animals you photograph?

A. I do, but I think any photographer who’s able to bring out something unique and noticeable in their photos of any living subject has to build a rapport with their subject and be able to bring that ability into lots of different scenarios. Sometimes, you only have a few minutes to make it happen. Other times you have to sustain it all day long.

Q5. What tools are necessary for your pet photoshoots?

A. Tasty pet treats (and yes, I’ve tried most of them), toys, cheap jeans (I’m on the ground so much for this job I go through more pairs per year now than I ever did as a kid), squeakers and a lot of patience.

Q6. If you could safely photograph any exotic animal, what would it be and why?

A. An elephant. I love playing with scale, but most of the time it’s trying to make a small animal look heroic and monumental in front of a huge building or landmark. It would be really fun and challenging to do the opposite. It might also be nice to stand up for a change to be at my subject’s eye level.

Q7. How has social media and apps such as Instagram affected your business?

A. They REALLY help.

Q8. For you personally, are you a cat or a dog person?

A. I’m a Dat person – I really don’t have a preference. I have a dog and a cat at home and love being with both.

Q9. If you can have any one piece of equipment in the world, what would it be?

A. Can I pick two?

1) A bionic third arm I could take on and off for shoots. I can’t tell you how often I find myself on the ground supporting my upper body at an awkward angle with one arm and holding the camera with another. That extra hand would be pretty useful.

2) A magic, non-loseable lens cap. I go through a dozen caps every year because I refuse to use those elastic leashes: dogs and cats either get scared of them or want to play with them.

Q10. Do you have any new or exciting pieces of work coming soon?

A. I just got word on a couple of really fun ones. I’m going to be publishing a book of dog photographs later this year and I just heard I’ll be working with the famous Grumpy Cat at the end of this month.

Click here to see more of Mark’s work

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