Photographers Art Directing Themselves

Photo­grap­hers Who Art-​Directed Their Own Photo­graphs.

My schooling and first jobs as an illus­trator /​graphic designer had been varied, but I had no expe­rience in directing a photographer—on loca­tion or in a photo studio. After viewing an art director’s layout or being informed of a client’s wishes—most, or maybe all, profes­si­onal commer­cial photo­grap­hers have the talent to capture a required image. The art director atten­ding is probably only there to witness the photo­grapher in action, suggest minor changes or is just happy to get out of the agency for the day.

Below, I show a variety of subjects for a commer­cial need where the photo­grap­hers needed no “art direction”.

In the late 1960s, I was still at my loca­tion at the south-​east edge of North Beach, S.F.—the home and work loca­tions of many Italian/​Catholics. I was offered desig­ning assig­n­ments from one of my steady clients, Ales­sandro Baccari, who had his office (always a wonderful walk to and from) the Maybeck Buil­ding at 1736 Stockton Street, near the Saints Peter and Paul Church on Washington Square. In 1967, he referred a repre­sen­ta­tive of the Catholic publi­ca­tion, Catholic Home Messenger, to my studio. I was supp­lied all of the photos that were to reflect the copy that was written for an eight page insert for their publi­ca­tion. The subject was “Lone­li­ness”. The only addi­ti­onal photo that I needed was one that had to have a vague back­ground image that would cover the first and last page of the insert. It needed to be ambi­guous by showing an uniden­ti­fi­able person. A weekend visit to Golden Gate Park was the first time that I art-​directed a shoot.

1967—(my job #223) Catholic Home Messenger 1 Pg : “Lone­li­ness”

Photo­grapher, Tom Vano, had his own personal pet-​project for the College of Holy Names in Oakland. Tom’s photos of the campus and the classes were deli­vered to me at the time that I received the assig­n­ment to design a brochure. Its purpose was to include an invi­ta­tion to finan­ci­ally support the new planned deve­lop­ments for the college. I was to draw the map with each proposed buil­ding and open area, shown with dashed lines. The brochure was written by Morrison Stewart and offered in three languages : English, Chinese and Spanish which were type-​set by Reardon and Krebs.

My paste-​up boards went to the agency, Ales­sandro Baccari and Associates—then sent to Hogan-​Kaus Litho­graphy for prin­ting. A week later, a set of printed copies was sent to me.

I never even met Tom Vano, but I received word, much later, that he was very pleased with my arran­ge­ment of his photos. He knew his subject very well. Had I been to the photo shoot, I would have learned from him, but I would have been of no help. Before this assig­n­ment, I hadn’t even known of the college.

1968—(my job #321) College of Holy Names 1 cover + 5 pages (#3,4,5,6,7)

Later, in 1974, when working on a brochure for U.S, Leasing, I needed the simple subject of marbles. The cover needed a photo of a child’s hand as in a game of “Marbles”.

A call to photo­grapher, Earl Wood, was all that was needed. Earl had an exten­sive port­folio of his photo­graphs showing his past efforts in shooting intri­cate subjects. This job was simple. He left the studio and returned with a lot of shots of various marbles. He had called our mutual friend, Dave Nelson (a top lette­ring man at the Logan, Carey & Rehag art studio)—and arranged for Dave’s son, Chris, to be the model. Earl directed his own “table-​top” (or ground-​level?) shot. The photos were exactly what the client wanted.

1974—(my job #1192) US Leasing NCR Folder (Cover and inside Cover)


Larry Keenan. Jr. was known for his “repor­ting syle” of photo­graphy. (See his link at the column at the right.)

As I was sket­ching thumb-​nail ideas for the up-​coming San Fran­cisco Ballet’s holiday poster for the “Nutcracker”, Larry visited the studio and offered to try some expe­ri­men­ta­tion using an exis­ting photo from the ballet’s collection. On his return, days later, Larry said that he tried a series of filters and achieved this ”Holiday Orna­ment” look, trans­formed from the original image. He had worked without any direction. The client accepted this effect, exactly as he presented it. The image was used for full-​sized posters, small posters, direct mail (which offered ticket prices and perfor­mance times). All items were printed at Pisani Press.

1974-​1975 (my job#1271) “Nutcracker” 1 Poster

December 22, 1975. I had never met George H. Knight before he appeared with a full enve­lope of the photo­graphs that he had taken, from all across the country. He had been contracted directly by Conso­li­dated Freig­ht­ways. The photo­graphs had been taken along one of the many routes of the CF trucks. Who could go wrong, desig­ning around photo­graphs like these ? I tried to imagine all of the plan­ning that this man had to do before captu­ring each subject.

We, in the studio, affecti­o­na­tely referred to George as “the cat in the hat”. George was a nice and hard working photo­grapher who seemed to always be wearing his plaid, pork-​pie hat : rain or shine, outdoors or indoors. I knew, or knew of, many commer­cial photo­grap­hers in San Fran­cisco. Here was George Knight, a low-​key and unas­su­ming talent. I learned later of his respected repu­ta­tion that included historic repor­ting of the chan­ging views of San Fran­cisco.

I had the assig­n­ment of desig­ning the 1975 Conso­li­dated Freig­ht­ways’ 200th Anni­ver­sary annual report. I had no influ­ence on photo subject matter other than the selection or crop­ping of George’s photos.
As the photos were laid out, in the sequence that a CF ship­ment would make on its journey east to west—it was the perfect oppor­tu­nity to show the old and the new views of each loca­tion depicted. Adding old images and photo­graphs avai­lable from archives—the report became an enter­tai­ning story, along with the charts and finan­cial copy impor­tant to Conso­li­dated Freig­ht­ways stock­hol­ders. As an ”extra”, I had the idea of crea­ting a map of our country’s original trails. I was glad that the client “went for it”!

This story is also about the way the repre­sen­ta­tive of Conso­li­dated Freig­ht­ways was kept from knowing that a female was desig­ning their annual report. I supposed, that he believed “trucking” was a man’s world. I had to hide all images of the project from my work area, whenever he visited the studio. I was kept out of the confe­rence room when my layout of the full thirty-​six pages, was presented by the two men in our studio.

By March of 1976, this CF client may have found out that I had designed the whole job—this was when a framed award arrived in the mail for me, showing my name as graphic designer “for the 1975 Annual Report of Conso­li­dated Freig­ht­ways, Inc.” (An addi­ti­onal report of this award—might have reached him.)

Without George Knight’s exper­tise in choice of loca­tion, timing and general hard work that was needed to provide me with these highly profes­si­onal photos—I would not have had the inspi­ra­tion to put all of these pages together making a unique annual report cele­bra­ting the CF’s 200th year.

12-22-1975—(my job #1450) Conso­li­dated Freig­ht­ways 1975 Annual Report (Cover + Spreads 1—9)

Ann Thompson

Clawing My Way To The Middle.

(This is why Herb Bass, John Francis and Sandy Mars­hall opened an Agency speci­a­li­zing in Trade Show Presen­ta­tions).

Clawing My Way To The Middle.

I was going through some boxes the other day trying to get rid of some shit so my daug­hter doesn’t get stuck with it when I die.

Some yellow-​lined papers fell out of a box. I looked at the writing on one page. “SHUT UP. IT’S THE BOOZE TALKING”, was scrib­bled across the page in a loopy hand­wri­ting. I looked at another page, “ENOUGH, ALREADY!” It went on like that for 13 pages.

“Ah, the Golden Age of ADVERTISING”, I thought, as I remem­bered that 3 hour lunch in 1978, and the Confe­rence Room meeting that followed it.

Charlie Roderman (another writer at Bots­ford) and I went to the Hoffman Grill for lunch that day. We had the breaded veal cutlet with extra gravy on it. God, I miss the Hoffman Grill. . The walls were covered with giant oil pain­tings that were them­selves covered with 40 years of cooking oil and it had a dark wood and brass railed inte­rior that felt like something from the 1800s. The frail, old waiters who wore rumpled tuxedos and looked like they were propelled by whichever direction pointed their over­lo­aded trays. Our usual waiter (Howard) would bring 3 beers when you ordered 2. He deli­vered 2 beers to us and put the third one on the edge of our table. That’s the one Howard would stop and gulp from every time he passed our way.

Charlie and I ate, drank and laughed our way through lunch. We cracked up over our stupid puns and stories (thin­king we were at our own Algon­quin Round Table minus anyone who mattered ; like maybe a Woll­cott, or Dorothy Parker). Words like, “I’ll tell you what a ‘concept’ is….it’s a large bird that flies in the Andes,” occu­pied our mind­less wande­rings. After a few hours we ambled (stum­bled) back to Bots­ford Adver­ti­sing. Reeking of beer we entered the dreaded Confe­rence Room. Hal Riney gave us his Crea­tive Director reno­wned bushy-​eyebrowed frown as we fell into our chairs at the long table. Various Account Execu­tives, Media people, an Art Director, and the Agency Producer slowly filled the room. I sat next to Charlie, trying to keep from laug­hing at how serious ever­yone looked. A yellow legal pad and pen was placed on the table in front of every seat.

This was a meeting about a Trade Show Presen­ta­tion in Las Vegas. The Race Car Driver, Mario Andretti, was going to show his new Cobra car with its “Powered By Oly” banner on it and then present some new Olympia Beer commer­cials to a group of beer distri­bu­tors. I had been chosen to write the presen­ta­tion script and create all the “exci­ting” ads, buttons and other para­pher­nalia. I resented this whole Trade Show idea. (“Trade Shows were beneath me,” I arro­gantly thought, I was an award-​winning radio and tele­vi­sion commer­cial writer. Didn’t Riney know I didn’t do Trade Shows?”) This meeting suddenly seemed like a good oppor­tu­nity to voice my feelings. “Hey, before we start talking details here….I’ve got something to say,” I slurred. Charlie’s head popped up and he scrib­bled something on the yellow pad in front of him. A sheet of yellow-​lined paper floated onto my lap. The words, “Shut up. It’s the booze talking,” were scrib­bled across it.

With single-​minded concen­tra­tion and liquid courage, I wasn’t about to let a few words of caution deter me. I conti­nued to launch into my diatribe.

“Why write a speech for Andretti ? Can’t he just say, “Here’s our new Oly campaign,” and let the work speak for itself ? Another yellow sheet landed in my lap. “Blah, blah, blah,” was the new message. I let the paper fall to the floor. I was on a roll. “And why go all the way to Las Vegas to display this crap. We’ve got lots of great Trade Show venues here in San Fran­cisco, and can we change the date of this thing ? My daughter’s birt­hday is coming up around then”. I ignored two more yellow pages (“You’ve hit rock bottom and you are star­ting to dig,” one of them said). Hal Riney got up and headed out the Confe­rence Room door. He gave me another bushy-​eyebrowed dirty-​look as he passed. For some garbled reason, I took this as a sign that since the Big Boss was no longer in ear-​shot, there was no reason to stop my inspired words of wisdom. I rambled on as Charlie’s yellow pages fell on my lap and people conti­nued to leave the room. “Media” left, the Account Execs found their way out, and the Art Director said, “dumb shit” as he passed my chair. “And about that ‘Powered by Oly’ banner on a race car. Is that really a good idea ? I mean, talk about drunk driving moti­va­tion”. The last person to leave the room was the Agency Producer. She looked directly at me and said, “If I want talk like this, I’ll go to the Iron Horse Bar down­stairs”.

These deli­cious memo­ries filled my old brain as I stared at the 13 pages in front of me now in 2016. 1978 was certainly one of my Golden Years in Adver­ti­sing. Even though the gold was the color of Olympia Beer and my brain was fully “Powered By Oly” that day.

Todd Miller

Some of San Francisco’s Photographers

Some of San Francisco’s Photo­grap­hers plus Fred Sweger
Previ­ously I have shown photo­graphs of photo­grap­hers : Ed Zak, Holger Kreu­z­hage, and Bob Skelton. Here is a small collection of photo­grap­hers of the time.

Show Photo­grap­hers 1 through 9A&B
1- Jack Allen-​So much to say, so limited this space /​2- Fred Lyon-​Portraits of San Fran­cisco /​3- Milton Halber­stadt – A top “table-​top” speci­a­list /​4- Walter Swarthout-​High fashion, natural portraits and captured beauty of dance /​5- Tom Vano, Jon Wells, Hank Fagliano and Morton Beebe-​A very successful team of talent /​6-​Tom Moulin-​Expertise beyond the historic Gabriel Moulin Studios /​7-​Byron McGraw- Black and white photo­grapher and corpo­ra­tion presi­dent at “Copy Service” /​8-​Tom King-​Personality photo­grapher for the Examiner, American Presi­dent Lines and neig­hbor­hood musi­cians e.g.Bola Sete /​9A&B-Chuck Weckler- Photo­grapher indoor and outdoor—in San Fran­cisco and out on the Sierra Moun­tains on November 4, 1964

This collection, below, was sent to me about two years ago from Kristofer Sweger and I somehow did not present it at that time. Kris­to­pher has been very patient.
Hi Ann,? As promised, I am sending you some work-​related pictures of or by my father, Fred Sweger.

Fred Color Man 1953

Announ­ce­ment from Dickey and Harleen Studios in 1953 when Fred Sweger joined the firm. Left to right : Ed Dickey, Carl Harleen and Fred Sweger. At the time, Fred was one of a small number of people in the area who produced high quality dye transfer color prints. That may be why he is shown in the photo covered with cyan, yellow and magenta.

Show Sweger photos 1,2,3,and 4
1-​Dickey and Harleen Studios announ­ce­ment of new phone number, circa 1958. Would this work nowa­days ?
2- 333 Sacra­mento Street, San Fran­cisco
3-​Dickey and Harleen Studios front door, about 1960. The door color design was by Fred Sweger, ?possibly influ­enced by Mondrian, but using more than just the primary colors.
4-​The fourth photo is from 1950, during a rela­ti­vely short period when Fred worked at Moulin Studios. Photo of Irving Moulin with Fred Sweger and another man in the back­ground, taken in 1950 at Moulin Studios.??

Best regards,??

Kris Sweger

When a very “cool” campaign turned very cold.

I first planned to show this collection of the artwork of which I felt quite proud. Now, I feel that I should explain why I was so very sad (not about my loss of work) when the educa­ti­onal campaign ended.

The “cool” campaign :
From1978 to 1986, I worked with many phar­ma­ceu­tical /​healt­hcare agen­cies on assig­n­ments from Cutter Labo­ra­to­ries. I knew nothing about the Cutter Labo­ra­to­ries, and in those days and I would have found it diffi­cult to do rese­arch. I was inter­pre­ting the copy of many agency copy­wri­ters for Cutter Biological—presenting various patient educa­ti­onal media for hemophi­liac patients and their fami­lies.

First, there was a kit of 14 exer­cise cards. These were drawn in black line and printed with over­lays of acetate for areas of color.

“Inside A Bleeding Joint”, a 20 minute color slide presen­ta­tion with cued sound, included two presen­ta­tions which were offered to educate about the hemophilia condi­tion : “A few words from Harold as you start your home care program“ (more than 50 slides) and here­dity : “Harold talks about how he inher­ited hemophilia” (more than 70 slides). Saving time and money, the two full slide shows were illus­trated with felt markers.
Because a slide projector would show a patch or any corrections of the art—if I made a mistake, I would have to start over.
Below are two exam­ples of the art for slides. The two take-​home brochures, that used some of the slide art, were used in sequence with the presen­ta­tion. I also show the box that held the slide tray and audio cassette.

There were three, 24 page, story­books, each needing 10 full-​page illus­tra­tions. There were three matching 16 page colo­ring books using just the black line art. All of these were for the young patients to read and learn about coping with their physical problems. The game, folded to fit with the books was offered also. For the finished painted art, I used Dr. Ph. Martin’s Radiant Concen­trated Water­co­lors. I was able to paint in my studio at home.

The story­books were written by : Nan Fried­lander /​Designed and Illus­trated by : Ann Thompson, 1978-​1980. The phar­ma­ceu­tical /​healt­hcare agen­cies for all of the above jobs : 1977, Barnum Commu­ni­ca­tions /​1978, Vicom Asso­ci­ates /​1979 &1980, Bachrach Ketchum

ECHO—Education and Commu­ni­ca­tion for Hemophi­liacs and Others.
These assig­n­ments came to me from various phar­ma­ceu­tical ad agen­cies.
The 19 issues of the publi­ca­tion, “Echo” had many infor­ma­tive arti­cles and reports for the family and patients of hemophilia.
This center spread, “Just For Fun”, was for the young­sters who had the condi­tion. There were letters from fami­lies, sent back to the publi­ca­tion with thanks for the two pages of inte­rest for their child. The finished art was rendered in markers. There were 19 assig­n­ments for this publi­ca­tion. In 1981, I got the first assig­n­ments from Bachrach Ketchum /​Ketchum Medical. In 1983 “ECHO” moved to NYC to Gross Town­send Frank Inc.—and then in June of 1984 to Rolf Werner Rosenthal, Inc.—and in 1985 to World Health. There were various art direc­tors and writers. I was never informed of the change of agency, the jobs just appeared, by phone and mail, in time to produce by the next issue. I would send (by mail) the subjects as a layout showing how the type would fit. When OK’d, I would send the art areas in place for the agency to prepare it for the publi­ca­tion.

Assig­n­ments for the ECHO “Just for Fun” pages : 1981-​1983, Bots­ford Ketchum /​1983, Gross, Town­send Frank, Inc. /​1984, Rolf Werner Rosenthal /​1985 &1986, World Health

turned very cold :
I had felt that my illus­tra­tions helped educate and support those with hemophi­liac condi­tions. It was the one time that I felt that I had made a patient feel better about their need to take on preven­tive care.
This, one of my most rewar­ding series of assig­n­ments, now reminds me of the fact that as I worked—I was not aware of “the whole story of the phar­ma­ceu­tical compa­nies nor the risks of their products”.

I was recei­ving assig­n­ments for the “ECHO” in July of 1982, when the concen­trated blood plasma products were found to be a source of HIV and hepa­titis C. The two products (concen­trated plasma) had been collected from donors that had no previous testing. Cutter Labs, was one of four supplier of these tainted blood products, and their actions after that date caused the horrible world-​wide tragedy for hemophi­liacs, of all ages.
This was the time, before the public had easy access of infor­ma­tion on the web. The Infor­ma­tion about infections didn’t reach patients, or me.

Cutter Labo­ra­to­ries began in 1897. Bayer, the German phar­ma­ceu­tical company founded in1863, acquired the Miles Corpo­ra­tion in Elkhart, Indiana in 1978—which at that same time merged with Bayer’s acquired Cutter Labs. Cutter Biolo­gi­cals was publicly shown to be “a divi­sion of Miles Labs” to hide Bayer’s WWII history. Bayer is now in many USA loca­tions and has plans to merge with Monsanto.
Below are early images of these three labo­ra­to­ries :

Hemophi­liacs, I read today, are offered two types of products : plasma-​delivered and recom­bi­nant factor concentrates—and that each of these is treated exten­si­vely to elimi­nate viruses and other conta­mi­nants.

I hope that there are new teaching publi­ca­tions and other items to lift the spirits of persons who have hemophilia.
Ann Thompson

Interpreting art for a storywriter or copy writer

Inter­pre­ting art for a story­writer or copy writer
Follo­wing up on the previous post, regar­ding the chal­lenges that artists (illus­tra­tors, desig­ners or cartoonist must face)—artists often must read pages of descrip­tion and deter­mine how to present images that are as close as possible to the words presented.
In the past years, I have already shown artists that have this talent. Here are two more, John Larrecq and Joe Cleary. In 1963 John Larrecq had seven illus­tra­tions accepted the SFADA’s Four­teenth Annual Exhi­bi­tion. Most of these illus­tra­tions had been assigned to John by an art director—but John’s talent in inter­pre­ting copy is evident in his illus­tra­tions for children’s’ books. This is where he shows a visual of the book’s character as described by the writer.

“A Single Speckled Egg” By Sonia Levitin, Illus­trated by John Larrecq, Parnassus Press, 1976
“Just the Thing for Geral­dine”  By Ellen Conford, Illus­trated by John Larrecq, Published, 1974
“TOM SWIFTIES” By Bill McDo­nough, Illus­trated by John Larrecq, Tom Swif­ties Publis­hing Company, 1963.
“BRODERICK”, By Edward Ormon­droyd, Illus­trated by John Larrecq, Parnassus Press, 1969

Joe Cleary excelled in illus­tra­tion for commer­cial jobs. From the begin­ning, illus­tra­ting “Boy’s Life” stories to illus­tra­ting stories in major maga­zines ; he caught the reader’s inte­rest. Here are two images that were shown in the 1963 SFADA Exhi­bi­tion Annual.
They are the same two illus­tra­tions that I had clipped from maga­zines that year. This was a kind of illus­tra­tion that I could never even attempt—but I admired the work, so I saved Joe’s art in my artist’s “morgue” (my 2 drawer scrap-​file of subject refe­rences and art styles). Because of the many years in the file, these samples were torn…but I show my clip­pings to show their detail and color.

Artist : Joe Cleary /​Logan & Carey, Art Director : Asger Jerrild, Client : Saturday Evening Post, 1963

During my almost forty years as an inde­pen­dent contractor in San Fran­cisco, I was often required to illus­trate, follo­wing only copy for a variety of commer­cial assig­n­ments. Early assig­n­ments were to show just simple instructions.

Cali­fornia Casu­alty, double spread of 10 steps. 1967, Charles Matheny Adver­ti­sing
Grade-​Set, Self Indi­ca­ting Color Grade Sticks. 1965, ADS Adver­ti­sing

With cook­books, the art spots did not require much thought unless it described special techni­ques or various steps.

“The milk-​free cook­book” Mull-​Soy Liquid /​Neo-​Mull-​Soy Liquid, Syntex. 1971, Klemptner Casey

If copy was descri­bing an analysis or descrip­tion of a medical condition—illustrations could be humo­rous as with “TAKING CARE OF YOUR ALLERGY”.
In other cases, detail and accu­racy needed to be very precise. There were 42 illus­tra­tions required for a 52 page 3 3/4”x 5½” pocket-​sized booklet for LifeScan’s “ONE TOUCH”.
The requi­re­ment was to use the largest type possible for some patients with poor eyesight. I was able to “spec” (design, size and place the type) and create the dummy layout with “fine-​line felt marker” instructi­onal illus­tra­tions in place. When all was approved, the next step—the crea­tion of very accu­rate finished art—demanded so many hours that I offered the assig­n­ment to illus­trator, Dick Moore, who took over execu­ting the tedious ink line details that were needed.

“TAKING CARE OF YOUR ALLERGY” Syntex Labo­ra­to­ries Inc. 1981, Vicom Asso­ci­ates
“ONE TOUCH II” Instruction Booklet. LifeScan, 1991, Rainoldi, Kerzner & Radcliffe

Inter­pre­ting assig­n­ments, follo­wing copy, demands more of the artist. I found the chal­lenge most rewar­ding since I had full control of the results. I also present this collection, hoping to show ambi­tious artists that there are many needs for artwork.

Ann Thompson

Log In