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From Wyoming to Mexico with Photographer Brian Smale

What does the digital economy look like from the outside? Photographer Brian Smale set out on a three-week odyssey to document the lands that technology forgot. The trip took him from the Columbia River Gorge to Juarez, Mexico in search of hope.

“Microsoft provides tech education to schools in rural communities and their “Airband” technology utilizes unused ‘white spaces’ in TV broadcast signals to bring internet service to homes and small businesses,” explains Brian. “To me, it’s some kind of magic.”

Microsoft launched the Techspark initiative for the underserved places in the world. This shoot took Brian and his assistant, Lucien Knuteson, from eastern Washington, to the birthplaces of the Burrito and Margarita in Juarez, MX, to southern Virginia and back to Cheyenne, WY.

The most striking thing about these locations was their stark emptiness. “Most of these places were very sparsely populated, so it’s not surprising no one had invested in broadband access,” recalls Brian. “But in Juarez, we met the grandson of the inventor of the Burrito in the shop his grandfather owned.”

“We had no required ‘shot list’ and fairly limited time to cover some pretty large areas,” Brian recalls. “We didn’t have the luxury of waiting for the best light or cooperative weather, so we just plowed ahead and shot whatever seemed interesting that crossed our path.”

After years of doing portraiture for this client, the freedom to shoot landscapes made this a dream job. Originally, he planned on using his regular photo gear for the shoot but brought along a drone at the last minute.

“A lot of the places we went were best seen from the air, and in many cases, only accessible by drone,” smiles Brian. “I don’t think I’ll ever do another landscape shoot without one. Besides, drones are really, really fun.”

If your next project could benefit from a different perspective, download the project book and explore the rest of Brian Smale’s work here. You’re going to like the view.




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Photographer Nader Khouri teases your eyes, tastebuds, and notions about health food.

Photographer Nader Khouri is on a mission to show people the good life and healthy choices are something they can achieve. His passions for food, photography, and holistic living are evident in every shot he takes.

“My life changed by complete chance two decades ago,” Nader recalls. “In college, I read ‘Spontaneous Healing’ by Dr. Andrew Weil and became passionate about living as natural a life as possible. That meant no fast food, no hydrogenated oils, artificial sweeteners, and more colorful vegetables in my diet.”

“I’ve spent the years since learning what it takes to live the most optimally healthy and fulfilling life,” reflects Nader. “I talk a lot about the 80/20 rule—eat a clean diet 80% of the time and then allow yourself some indulgences the other 20%.

Okay, so tell me about the Good Life part? Nader realizes it’s not just about what you eat that’s part of living your best life. His philosophy around his work also includes exercise, having fun, and striving to improve your quality of life.

“I have learned in my own life that part of feeling fulfilled includes getting out there and enjoying exercise and leisure. Staying home all the time and isolating yourself because you are on a strict diet isn’t good either.”

This year, Nader has been able to serve his clients’ needs and advance his message of health and wellness for companies like Hestan Cue Smart Cooking, Mixt, and several esteemed hotels, restaurants and wineries.

Balance. Depth. Detail. Color. It sounds like a life well lived and a photograph well taken. Is that art imitating life or life imitating art? “I can’t imagine separating them,” chuckles Nader, “so I’m not sure it matters.”

If your next project could benefit from Nader’s perspectives on health, get a taste of the rest of his work here. You’ll feel better for it.




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Director/Photographer Andrew Maguire brings powder to the people!

What gets your attention when you’re trying to shoot still photography and direct film during the same shoot? Avalanches. When one of your elite athletes gets buried in snow while driving to the shoot, well, survival makes its way to the top of the list.

“Photography and film require two different skill sets,” explains Andrew. “Yes, both mediums work with cameras, lighting, and composition, but storytelling through motion is a different process, you need to think beyond the still frame.”

In addition to the challenges of simultaneously running film and photography shoots, the already tight three-day schedule landed in the middle of a record-breaking snowstorm that blanketed the Colorado High Country with 50+ inches of snow in 48 hours. Time to break out the ski snorkels.

“In three days, we experienced everything the Rockies could throw at us,” exclaims Andrew. “Highway and road closures, whiteout conditions, avalanches, rain, and more than four feet of snow. I mean, that’s taller than some of the kids we were shooting!”

Andrew doesn’t like to work with a script for this type of shoot, but a storyboard and creative brief is vital. He knew this campaign was built around the sense of place. What sets Vail apart from other iconic mountains is the surroundings.

“This was an exciting project,” smiles Andrew. “Not only to work for one of the most recognizable brands in the world, but to face whatever Mother Nature threw at us while pushing beyond my previous boundaries.”

No doubt about it, this was a double-black-diamond shoot. But despite the demands, Andrew never got out over his skis. And in the end, Vail came out looking “Like Nothing On Earth.”

If you’re looking to elevate your brand, take a run at the rest of Director/Photographer Andrew Maguire’s work here. The bar has been raised.




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Eye Candy and Soul Food

Director/Photographer Richard Jung leaves you hungry for more.

Growing up in his family’s bustling restaurant explains why Richard Jung loves the sights, sounds, and sheer delight of food. Business school explains why he loves the sights, sounds, and sheer delight of photography and film.

“I was conscripted to kitchen duty in my parent’s busy New York City restaurant,” recalls Richard fondly. “By the age of 2 1/2, my head was cram-packed full of juicy food knowledge and a bottomless repository of visual riches.”

Richard moves to San Francisco and ultimately attends business school. But a wayward filmmaking course upsets the apple cart. He drops out and starts shooting full time. His talents take him to London, but the love of food and all its tasty trappings never leaves him.

“Food has been good to me so I figured I should be good to food,” cracks Richard. “My still photography got me an opportunity to shoot some film and my filmmaking roots came back with a vengeance. I dove in headfirst.”

What started with lovely food in close-up has led to a wider story. Richard used film to capture the sensory world surrounding food – exploring the emotional importance of this first necessity to the people that grow it, cook it, and, ultimately, enjoy it.

“It keeps me pretty busy, but I always find time to write short films about other topics that inspire me,” adds Richard. “I’m finishing a film now entitled “The Luthier” about the making of a high-end violin from the first cut to finish.”

Busy is an understatement. Richard is also working on a project called “Daughter of a Shepherd” about a woman who saved a rare breed of sheep, and a book about salt by renowned author, Naomi Duguid.

“Film and photography are my work and play and that’s the way I like it.”

If you want your next project to leave a delicious taste in people’s mouths, dive into the rest of Richard’s work here. But fair warning, you’ll want to go back for seconds.




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Shane L. Johnson’s superpower is illustration

What does it feel like when a movie franchise that’s grossed $1.6B worldwide picks you to illustrate their latest tie-in book? It feels like you can fly.

“They asked that I submit sample art for Hiccup, Toothless and Astrid,” recalls Shane. “Character designs hadn’t been released yet, so I created samples using the characters as they appeared in the previous film, but rendered in a new line-art style developed by the studio.”

Shane proved he was world class, and that he could keep secrets. Specific plot points and new characters are often kept under wraps because of the very real danger of leaks. New characters can still be in development while the tie-in products are being produced.

Researching a project is nothing new to Shane, but this didn’t feel like work. “In addition to studying reference material from the studio, I watched the first two movies for background,” he explains. “Many key scenes in the books were also in the movies, so I had that available to me as well.”

Turns out, drawing dragons is as hard as riding them. “One of my biggest challenges was Toothless,” Shane confirms. “There was a lot of trial and error on my part to use just the right amount of black so the details of his body and face would be readable. The studio’s blueprints of Hiccup’s flying harness were also very precise.”

Every frame, every character, every detail is meticulously reviewed by the studio’s art department. Revisions are indicated by a sketch overlay of the submitted frames until Shane delivers the final art.

“This project was a deep dive into the Dragons series, of which I’m now a real fan,” reflects Shane. “It is always fun to work with characters beloved by so many – myself included.”

If you need your next project to take flight, check out the rest of Shane’s work here. You’ll start to believe that anything is possible.





From microbrew to mega beer
with Illustrator Filip Yip

What does it say when one of the most recognizable brands in the world trusts you with their identity? Once Budweiser decided to update their sacred eagle to reflect both their heritage and their modernity, there was only one illustrator on the list.

When Anheuser-Busch launched a rebranding campaign, their agency recruited Filip to create key assets for the modernized crest. For a brand worth a reported $27 billion, that is high praise, indeed.

“The design won several awards and became so popular that I continue to help create new assets for the brand, from flavored beers to flagship labels,” Filip relays proudly.

Filip is no stranger to mega beers having cut his teeth on Coors Light. His first assignment long ago was to transform their antiquated brand assets into digital-friendly art and iconography. As a fan, he also took special delight in creating a seasonal Coors Light label dedicated to soccer.

Filip’s international experience and print production expertise made him the perfect candidate when Brazilian beer, Brahma Chopp, took notice and said, ‘Mais um, por favor.’

“They wanted to update their goddess with a contemporary look,” reflects Filip. “So we found a solution that was more practical to reproduce and more relatable to a new generation of drinkers.”

Filip relishes the chance to engage his playful side as well. “Blue Moon wanted to portray their brand in a fun, relatable way with their Graffiti Collection,” smiles Filip. “So I traveled to New York and Paris to study street art that expressed an irreverent attitude with humor and energy.”

If you’re looking for an illustrator/designer who can make the leap from billion-dollar brands to the mean streets of Gotham, drink in the rest of Filip Yip’s work here. Your brand will find it very refreshing.





Photographer Michal Venera turns Hawaii into New Zealand before your eyes

michal venera photography

Need to recreate a shot of friends on a beach in New Zealand? From an island thousands of miles away? In seven days? Over Christmas? With bad weather, a serious model shortage, and three major movie productions fighting for production resources? Say “Aloha” to Photographer Michal Venera.

michal venera photography

“A New Zealand wine brand wanted to recreate a specific shot of friends on a beach for a holiday promotion,” recalls Michal. “But it was already the first week of December, which ruled out New Zealand because of weather.”

Michal and the client quickly settled on Hawaii as a substitute island. What they didn’t know is that three major motion pictures were already shooting on Oahu. Competing for basic resources – like models – turned into a real challenge.

And despite the location improvisation, weather was an issue. If Michal hadn’t gone straight from the plane to shoot landscapes and locations, the entire shoot might have been a bust. After that first day of celestial sunshine, Michal and his crew lost two days time battling rain and overcast conditions. Turns out, the main image ended up being a composite using a background from those first coverage photographs.

The lesson? “Always be shooting,” said Michal with a wry smile. “I’m a very structured photographer and try to control as many variables as possible, but you never know when the magic is going to happen.”

Case in point, the three major motion-picture productions put a strain on behind-the-lens talent as well. Not happy with the styling for the shoot, Michal jumped in his rental car and raced across the island to Honolulu before the shops closed. Sprinting from store to store, he and his producer put together their own wardrobe for all six models.

But overdelivering comes standard with Michal. Tasked with reproducing a single shot, he delivered imagery for an entire campaign that ran well into the new year.

So if your next project could use a little holiday magic, unwrap the rest of Photographer Michal Venera’s work here. Your wishes are about to come true.




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Illustrator Cindy Salans Rosenheim draws from life

Cindy Salans Rosenheim illustration

How long does it take to become a fashion illustrator? Apparently, about 40 minutes. Provided, of course, that you spent 40 years becoming an accomplished artist. Illustrator Cindy Salans Rosenheim started her journey as a young child asking her artisan mother how to draw a bird.

Cindy Salans Rosenheim illustration

“She was at work in her studio and I asked her how to draw a bird,” reminisces Cindy. “She pointed at the holly tree in the backyard and said, ‘Find a bird.’” Feeling slightly rejected, she discovered as she continued to hone her skills that this was, in fact, sage advice.

Cindy Salans Rosenheim illustration

“I have always drawn from life,” explains Cindy. In fact, her first ever assignment for a greeting card company had her running to a garden shop looking for the proverbial basket of violets. “I was the laughing stock of the floor,” Cindy chuckles, “but the approach has served me well.”

Cindy Salans Rosenheim illustration

After decades as a successful commercial illustrator, Cindy now works frequently from photographs and other source material, but when the opportunity arises to get out there and document life in the flesh, she jumps at it. The Ferragamo gig provided such a lure.

Cindy Salans Rosenheim illustration

On arriving at Salvatore Ferragamo’s flagship store in Silicon Valley, Cindy was placed at a glistening acrylic tulip Saarinen table, poised to whip out fashionista versions on special Ferragamo cards of their clientele. Five minutes and voila!

Cindy Salans Rosenheim illustration

With half the store watching the magic, it was quite the challenge. Cindy trusted her instincts and fell into a zone. One exquisitely turned-out shopgirl asked breathlessly how long Cindy had been a fashion illustrator. She glanced nonchalantly at her watch and said, “I’d say about 40 minutes.”

If your next project would benefit from a consummate illustrator who personifies grace under pressure, sneak a peek at Illustrator Cindy Salans Rosenheim’s work here. But you’d better be quick about it!




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Photographers with purpose: Ashley Thompson and Ana Homonnay

What do you do when an entire neighborhood is on the Endangered List? The photographic team of Ana Homonnay and Ashley Thompson saw their beloved Mission District in San Francisco slipping away through the erosion of gentrification. They decided to memorialize their adopted home and its people before it was too late.

“Ana and I set out to explore the Mission and the ever-changing landscape of the people that make up what has long been a vibrant and colorful neighborhood,” Ashley reports. “Gentrification has cast a dark shadow on a neighborhood that is losing its core identity, piece by piece.”

“With this project we really wanted to document a time that is quickly disappearing, and show the amazing, beautiful, hard-working people that still live and and make a life in the Mission,” adds Ana. “Whether that’s preserving the rich Latino culture or recording the artists that make the Mission so unique.”

Ana and Ashley believe shooting portraits is an intimate business and a connection needs to be made before the cameras come out. “We always connect with someone as much as we can before we ask to take their portrait,” shares Ashley. “We want to know, and in some small way, tell their story,” adds Ana.

Shopkeepers, street vendors, artists, and bohemians, the Mission is still a place where “street” and “life” go together. And this duo is uniquely suited to capture the vibrancy of it all. Ana comes from a documentary background while Ashley is trained in fine art. They compliment each other nicely through two different aesthetics with a shared vision and goal.

So if your next project needs photography with power, purpose and a dual perspective, visit the rest of Photographers Ashley Thompson and Ana Homonnay ’s work here. You won’t soon forget it.




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Taste the summer with Photographer Christina Schmidhofer

Temptation – what is tastier than that? Photographer Christina Schmidhofer loves to explore the emotional impact of texture, color and suggestion. Her food photography is renown for its mouthwatering compositions.

“My understanding of food and organic matter comes very natural to me,” explains Christina. “Not only do I come from a background of avid gardeners – including myself – I can relate to the summers working in my brother’s gourmet gelateria in my teenage years.”

“For this ice cream series, I wanted to conjure up the joyful whimsy of summer,” Christina says with a smile. “I combined the Pop Art style of flat, vivid colors with the organic consistency of the ice cream and the simple beauty of edible flowers to tease those sense memories.”

For this project, she teamed up with the food stylist, Elisabet der Nederlanden, and prop stylist, Jody Kennedy. The directions were to have images screaming “summer”, “hot”, “colorful” and “modern.” Then, Christina pushed the lighting to create lots of hard shadows and contrasted colors.

Of course, capturing the individual images was only the first step – the ingredients of her pièce de résistance. To bring it all together, Christina enlisted Traci Shiro to design the layouts. The result? Compositions capable of transporting viewers to the summers of their youth.

If your next project could use her joyful power of suggestion, have a lick – um – look at the rest of Photographer Christina Schmidhofer’s work here. Temptation awaits!