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)
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.
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.
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.??
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.
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.