Big, Big Sur

Weekend travels to Big Sur. I borrowed a little Fuji point-and-shoot for the trip and had fun playing with it. : )

Glen Oaks.

Glen Oaks.

It rained non-stop. So much so that Highway 1 slid in four places. We had booked lodging further South but with the road impassible, we changed plans and stayed in a small riverside cabin at Glen Oaks.

It was cozy. There was a noise machine next to the bed with all the usual settings, including "rain," which was funny while the rain fell all night and made a joyful racket on the roof.

Leland leaving the cabin.

Leland leaving the cabin.

Glen Oaks cabin.

Glen Oaks cabin.

Jellies at Monterey Bay Aquarium

Jellies at Monterey Bay Aquarium

My favorite animal is the octopus. I spent almost an hour waiting for him to unglue himself from the glass, but he never did. So I photographed the jellies instead. Borderline cliche in their drifty beauty, still remarkable.

Typical Carmel Abode

Typical Carmel Abode

In Carmel we wandered the neighborhoods. The houses are whimsical, of course.

Canada Verde Creek, Half Moon Bay

Canada Verde Creek, Half Moon Bay

Stopped by the Ritz in Half Moon Bay to walk on the beach, and had an old-school lunch at Miramar Beach Restaurant.

Great White Sharks

Took a shark dive in Hermanus, South Africa and learned a few things! Great White Shark teeth are basically arranged like an escalator; as soon as one's gone another rotates up into its place. They go through 1,000 teeth a year. But get this... Great White Shark skin is actually made of teeth. Dermal Denticles. I kid you not.

The chummer pours fish guts behind our boat to attract Great Whites.

The chummer pours fish guts behind our boat to attract Great Whites.

And yet, every marine scientist will assure you that Great Whites are not particularly dangerous to people. "More people die from toasters than from shark attacks each year!" They say.

These people are seasick. I don't think they saw any sharks at all.

These people are seasick. I don't think they saw any sharks at all.

Also, Great White Sharks have a sixth sense. Their snouts are covered in Ampullae of Lorenzini pores, which sounds like a problem, and it is, if you are swimming near a Great White Shark, because we all have a little electric charge, and the gel in these Lorenzini pores registers electrogradients as minute as a billionth of a volt across a centimeter. I'm no electrician, but that's shockingly sensitive. In fact, sharks are the most sensitive electrical sensors on Earth. They are more sensitive than any other living creature, and they are more sensitive than humanity's most advanced equipment.

This guy is betting his life on this garden fencing.

This guy is betting his life on this garden fencing.

The water here is about 54 degrees F. Cold enough to make you wish for a toaster. We put wetsuits on and got in this cage and waited for sharks to come check out a giant ball of fish-heads tied to a rope that the chummer was throwing around.

This is the boat for high IQ people who don't muck around with wetsuits and underwater cages. They came to watch our expert chummer work his magic.

This is the boat for high IQ people who don't muck around with wetsuits and underwater cages. They came to watch our expert chummer work his magic.

Sharks are very curious, because they are very hungry. They will check out anything that is moving or bleeding or electrical in nature to see if it can be eaten. Especially if it's a giant ball of fish-heads!

Our expert chummer got his ball of fish-heads stuck inside a Great White Shark.

Our expert chummer got his ball of fish-heads stuck inside a Great White Shark.

Great White Sharks average 15 feet in length, and can weigh up to 4 tons. That is equivalent to 3,600 toasters. Thankfully for our chummer, he is harnessed to the boat. Finally the shark let go of the fish-head ball.

Still seasick, but handsomely so.

Still seasick, but handsomely so.

I didn't get an underwater camera because there's a sign at my photolab that makes fun of people with underwater cameras and I don't want them to judge me. So, I don't have any photos of the sharks underwater. I can tell you and you should believe me that it was one of the most memorable things I've ever done. These sensitive monsters would just crash into the cage, rubbing their skinteeth along the bars, and you're just eye to eye, a few inches away. Unbelievable.

Cleaning seasickness off the boat back at shore.

Cleaning seasickness off the boat back at shore.

One last true fact about Great White Sharks. A mama shark holds 10-12 little babies in her uterus. But she only gives birth to one or two. BECAUSE THE STRONG BABY SHARKS EAT THE WEAK BABY SHARKS IN THE WOMB! Seriously efficient natural selection. Great Whites, after all, are at the pinnacle of the marine food chain. Also, take dramamine.

Weekend Snaps

Last weekend at a picnic for my friend's birthday.

Volley

Volley's mission: "to computationally understand and teach the world's academic knowledge within a decade." My mission: create compelling photos for their website. Specifically: personal, non-stock-photography content that shows them at work -- images with personality that attract new talent to the team.

We took care of headshots at my studio, then I visited them at their temporary (now upgraded) offices for a few action shots.

And some screenshots from their website:

Kodak: the Apple of the Apple State

I got started with photography using a Nikon 35mm slr that I bought used at a camera shop in Wyoming. I learned to develop and print in the Center for the Arts in Jackson, WY, after hours, thanks to a good friend who also happened to manage the darkroom. We'd listen to Manu Chao and print until the early morning. It was just a hobby then, and I had no idea I'd be a full-time photographer some years later. My point is, film has always been important to me. If my clients have the budget and patience for it, I always suggest shooting on film. I'm not into retro anything and I'm not on some high horse (or hipster schooner), I just like how it looks. I like how it acts with light.

I use a lot of different brands and types of film, but the two in top rotation are Kodak Tri-X for black and white, and Kodak Portra 400 for color. I love them. So while I was in Rochester, New York, over Christmas, a visit to Kodak founder Mr Eastman's house was definitely in order.

George Eastman House. photo: Ian Tuttle

Back home in San Francisco, there are a lot of headquarters for companies that are global juggernauts... Facebook, Apple, Google, Twitter, Uber, etc. These companies offer products and services that shape the day-to-day lives of billions of people around the world. While touring the Eastman House and learning about Kodak's founder, I kept thinking about Steve Jobs and Apple. With its iconic branding, coveted products, and streamlining of difficult technology for everyone's enjoyment, Apple strikes me as a modern-day equivalent to Kodak. Much ado has been made about Steve Jobs (ie 1, 2, 3), and I have no basis to compare his character to that of Mr Eastman's, since I never knew either man, but there are some interesting similarities between the two companies.

A portrait of George Eastman in the George Eastman Museum. photo: Ian Tuttle

Eastman thought about photographs and cameras the way Steve Jobs thought about music and computers. When Eastman started, photography was arcane and difficult. There were fragile glass plates involved, and toxic chemicals, and pitch black darkrooms. It was 1880. People didn't want to deal with that crap. Eastman began his company by selling prepared dry plates (what the hell are those, right?) but knew he needed to simplify this obscure, technical, complicated medium in order to bring it to the masses. By 1888 he'd figured out a new way of doing things, and the slogan for that first Kodak camera was, "you push the button, we do the rest." You'd buy a Kodak camera with film already loaded, shoot your pictures, then mail it in. Your film was developed, printed, and your camera returned to you loaded with fresh film. So easy! Kodak invented roll film, then film that could be loaded and unloaded without a darkroom, then motion picture film, then Super 8 for making your own movies at home, (they even developed a top-secret hand grenade for the nascent CIA during World War II). All of these inventions simplified difficult processes for the masses (even the grenade! It was modeled after a baseball to give young American soldiers a familiar throwing experience).

Kodak's hand grenade... the top secret T13 Beano. Image courtesy CIA.

A century later, in 1984, the Macintosh computer debuted without a programmable language, meaning, you didn't really get under the hood of it... you just plugged it in, and all that arcane code showed up as a clean, familiar, visual "desktop." So easy! It was the result of Jobs' desire to simplify the messy personal computing process.

The original Macintosh, circa 1/24/1984. Image credit: "Macintosh 128k transparency" by w:User:Grm wnr - Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

The original Macintosh, circa 1/24/1984. Image credit: "Macintosh 128k transparency" by w:User:Grm wnr - Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

Another big similarity between the two is their mad genius for branding. KODAK is a made-up word. Mr Eastman intuited that a strong brand could bring huge success to his young company, and in 1888 he created the iconic name while playing anagrams with his mom. He wanted a name that would be easy to pronounce in many languages, that would sound enduring, and not resemble anything else. Eastman is quoted as saying K "seems a strong, incisive sort of letter," a "letter that stands on its own two legs." The Kodak logo was the first ever corporate logo that integrated it's name with an immediately recognizable symbol, and the colors yellow and red became a constant. In 1996 the Kodak brand was considered the 5th most valuable brand in the world.

Kodak logo circa 1987, from Kodak.com

Kodak logo circa 1987, from Kodak.com

"Apple Computer Logo rainbow" by Rob Janoff, circa 1987

Look at those logos! Even right now, today, in 2016, both of these decades-old logos resonate!

Jobs also understood the power of brand. He told his designer, Rob Janoff, to make something "not too cute" that would be simple and bold. The 1984 launch of the Macintosh was announced with a now famous $1.5 Million Ridley Scott-directed television ad during the superbowl. The Apple brand, today, is widely considered to be one of the top five most valuable brands in the world (the most valuable brand, depending on who you ask). Both Kodak's and Apple's products were revolutionary. Their branding and advertising were similarly so.

And now, Eastman and Jobs are both gone. Eastman's health started failing around 1930, and he grew increasingly infirm. He couldn't work anymore, and had trouble walking, and in 1932 he shot himself in the heart. He left a suicide note that said: "To my friends, my work is done -- Why wait? GE."

Kodak thrived for many decades after Eastman's death, rolling out new products to eager customers. New film stocks (ektachrome, kodachrome, tri-x...). Movie cameras. Slide projectors. Super 8. 110mm film cartridges. These things sound quaint now, but they were huge when they hit the market. From 1972 to 1975, 25,000,000 instamatic pocket cameras were produced. In 1976 Kodak sold 90% of all film in the U.S. In 1981 Kodak surpassed $10 Billion in sales (worth about $26 Billion in today's dollars).

On tour in the Eastman House. Photo: Ian Tuttle

Apple's annual sales are a clean order of magnitude greater... currently around $234 Billion (source), but that steady stream of covetable, never-before-seen new products is the same. Apple releases the Macintosh, the iMac, the iPod, the iThis and the iThat (yes, I know, here we are on the iTuttle website...ha ha. But I can't help my name, and iantuttle.com was taken, by another photographer no less!!), and people around the world can't wait to get their hands on them.

While making this comparison during the Eastman House tour, I kept imagining Silicon Valley in 75 years. I'll probably be dead (though, that's debatable). But Sillicon Valley might be dead, too. All these products and services that are integral to our lives now will be replaced by things we can't even fathom right now.

Kodak dominated image-making for over a century. The very first digital camera was invented at Kodak in 1975. (The company famously failed to act on this invention until too late, to the great delight of Harvard Business Review authors and strategy wonks everywhere). Many factors conspired to crush Kodak; it wasn't just digital photography (as evidence, many old-school photo companies survived the digital transition, including Leica, Ilford, Nikon, and, perhaps most notably, Fuji). And while it's hard to imagine Apple ever disappearing (I'm typing this on a Mac, and my iPhone just rang with a text in my pocket), it will. Already, the seamless operation is showing some cracks. I stopped using iTunes a few generations ago because (a) it got too complicated, and (b) Spotify works better and streaming music is a better value. I'm not going to get into a tech debate here, my point is that change comes whether you like it or not. Kodak employed 145,000 people at one time. Apple currently employs 115,000. Back in the 1980s and '90s, nobody thought Kodak would go down. It was listed on the Dow Jones Industrial Average for over 70 years! But... down it went.

Rochester New York is still a vibrant city, with universities, its own orchestra, an Alec Baldwin approved supermarket chain, and plenty of gorgeous mansions, but it's also a little hollowed out. Kodak is gone, in a real sense. Sure, the company exists and still produces terrific photographic film (I AM A FAN!), and movie film [QUENTIN TARANTINO IS A FAN (Hateful 8!), as is JJ Abrams (the new Star Wars!), Vincent Gallo (Buffalo 66!), Todd Haynes (Carol!), David O Russell (Three Kings!) and on and on]. Kodak also makes money by auctioning off its patent portfolio, licensing its still-beloved brand name, and even came out with it's own Smartphone a few months ago (how great is that for the purposes of this article?! It's full circle!). But you don't level 80 buildings in your corporate campus if things are going gangbusters. (I guess for Apple it'll be easier... their entire corporate campus will be in just a single building).

Kodak's new phone, circa 2015. I'm not making this up.

Kodak's new phone, circa 2015. I'm not making this up.

Apple's new phone, circa 2015.

Apple's new phone, circa 2015.

Anyway, I enjoyed the museum. I would have loved to have met George Eastman. By all accounts, he was a very generous, kind, energetic, and brilliant man. He was extremely charitable, believing that it was the duty of wealthy people to give back their money in the form of public good -- schools, research, endowments for the arts, etc. By all accounts, Mr Jobs was maybe not a delight to be around, though as far as charity goes it's likely he was also extremely generous, just anonymously so.

Downtown Rochester's now defunct subway system. Photo: Ian Tuttle

If you find yourself in Rochester, visit the George Eastman Museum. It is beautiful, and it is thriving. One of my favorite photographers, Brian Ulrich, was showing in the gallery. An exhibit showing the evolution of Kodak cameras shows you how a singular company brought photography to the masses, allowing us to record our everyday moments and special occasions, and ultimately paved the way for the tiny digital cameras on all of our phones. Concerts are performed there, and the photographic archive is one of the greatest in the entire world. It's a remarkable legacy that he and his company have left. And through it all, I still find myself wondering how Silicon Valley might look in 75 years, after the Next Big Thing hollows out another core. Until then, I'll just keep shooting. ...on Kodak film, as long as it's available.

 

 

--Archive--

All posts older than this one have been transferred from a prior website. If you're looking at the dates and something seems fishy... now you know why!

A New Mount for an Old Lens.

---This post also appeared on PetaPixel---

Turns out my great-great-grandfather was a photographer. Born in 1850, Robert Stapleton served in the US Army for two five-year tours in the then-wild-west.

US Army at Gillems Camp, Lava Beds National Monument, 1873, representative of what Stapleton would have been doing around that time. Photographer unknown, archived by NPS.

US Army at Gillems Camp, Lava Beds National Monument, 1873, representative of what Stapleton would have been doing around that time. Photographer unknown, archived by NPS.

When he got back home to Kansas he didn't want to farm, so he bought a camera and worked as a photographer. My uncle (also a photographer, in Washington DC) ended up with a lens of his from around the turn of the century, which he recently sent me as a gift. Manufactured in Rochester NY, with a patent date of February 24, 1903, it's in near-flawless condition.

The Baushch & Lomb-Zeiss Tessar lens, from circa 1903. Photo: Ian Tuttle

The Baushch & Lomb-Zeiss Tessar lens, from circa 1903. Photo: Ian Tuttle

Bausch & Lomb - Zeiss Tessar lens, wide open at f/4.5. Photo: Ian Tuttle

Bausch & Lomb - Zeiss Tessar lens, wide open at f/4.5. Photo: Ian Tuttle

There was only one problem.... I needed a lens board to mount it to my 4x5 Speed Graphic. I bid on a few on ebay but kept losing the $8 or $9 auctions at the last minute. It was frustrating.

Thankfully, the guys at Glass Key Photo connected me with Lucas Saugen, a photographer and 3-D printer.

Lucas, in front of one of his printers. Photo: Ian Tuttle

Always eager to solve new problems, Lucas spec'd out a lens board to fit the lens and my Speed Graphic, and in a matter of minutes he'd printed it for me!

The CAD instructions the printer uses to build the lens board. Photo: Ian Tuttle

From code to real world...

The new lens board. Photo: Ian Tuttle

It had to be triple-thick to prevent any light leaks.

The back of the new lens board. Photo: Ian Tuttle

 

The old lens precisely fit, and the rough plastic actually looked perfectly weathered.

The 100+ year-old lens mounted on a few-days-old lens board. Photo: Ian Tuttle

The old lens and new lens board. Photo: Ian Tuttle

The lens fixed to my Speed Graphic. Photo: Ian Tuttle

Speed Graphic ready to shoot with the lens mounted. Photo: Ian Tuttle

The view through the ground glass. Photo: Ian Tuttle

It's a trip to use a 110-year-old lens on a 60-year-old camera with a 1-week-old lens board. The results were gorgeous. I shot an engagement series with the set-up a few days later.

Photo: Ian Tuttle

...And then I brought it out for a street portrait.

Photo: Ian Tuttle

Keeping the photographic tradition alive, one technological advancement at a time. Thanks to my uncle Steve who sent me the lens, to Lucas for the 3-D printing, to Glass Key for making the connection, and of course, to my great-great-grandfather Mr Stapleton, without whom I wouldn't be here in the first place.

How Business Development at Spotify Sees Your Headshots

I interviewed Shane Tobin at Spotify about the impression headshots make on him when he's considering a company for a partnership deal. Shane was Vice President of Business Development at The Echo Nest prior to its acquisition by Spotify in March 2014. Before that, he directed business development at MobiTV.

Shane's new headshot - Porcupine Photography

Shane's new headshot - Porcupine Photography

I was rocking out to some Hesitation Marks streaming through [now defunct] Grooveshark when Shane walked into my studio for some headshots last week. He glanced over at the computer and said "Hey! That's not Spotify!" Busted! I got a lesson in royalty payments and how Spotify actually pays musicians while the service I was using doesn't. I've since made the switch and am now listening in style!

I always like to know how professional headshots are viewed in their native environment...particularly on company websites and Linkedin profiles, and Shane was a great person to ask about this.

Top five things I learned from our conversation:

(1)

Younger companies can get away with less polished head shots. As a company matures, so too should its visual presentation.

(2)

Employees feel valued when their company presents them professionally on their website with high-quality head shots.

(3)

Never use a selfie.

(4)

Even though we're all impressed that you spoke at your local Ted conference, your headshot should never show you wearing a headset microphone.

(5)

Keep your photos up to date. It sends a bad message when your head shots aren't current.

 

And here's the full interview, in case you want all the fine grit:

Ian Tuttle: What is your current role at Spotify? Shane Tobin: I joined the Business Development team handling software partnerships at Spotify last year after the music intelligence company I had been at for 3 years, The Echo Nest was acquired. 

How many prospective companies do you look at in a typical month?  It ranges, but probably around 10-20 a month. We’re pretty focused on specific partnerships but I always want to keep informed on new start ups that are gaining traction or breaking new ground in the music and social space.           

What is the FIRST thing you look for?  I look at the presentation of the website, what they see as their primary value proposition, how they summarize their business offering and then if I know of anyone on their team, board or advisers.

Can a company’s photos of their employees affect their desirability as a partner, either negatively or positively?  I think if you are an early startup you get a lot of passes in terms of how you present yourself but as you get larger or get older, you need to be more professional. If you have a uniform look for your team photos, it shows you put some effort in.  I think it also makes employees feel like they are valuable too when they see themselves on their site in a professional manner.

 Any specific cases you can think of with a particularly bad photo?  Using a photo from a conference when you have a mic attached is the worst.  Or you are on a stage talking with your hands.  Ted talk photos. And no selfies from your laptop.

What about a particularly good one? Just be natural, dress nicely, be yourself and approachable. 

What sort of photos would you consider "unacceptable" in a business context?  Being too casual, using photos of someone else like a celebrity, or a photo that has other people in it.

What about eye contact in a picture? Yes, don’t look away. What are you looking at?  Did you see Bigfoot driving a truck?  If so, that’s awesome but take another photo where you are looking into the camera.

 Do you notice what someone is wearing in his or her picture? Only if they are wearing something unprofessional or out of context like a tuxedo.

 Okay, but really, does a photo actually matter?  Most of the time if you haven’t met a person, this will be your first impression either on LinkedIn, doing a Google image search or on your website.  So I think it’s worth it to take the time and do it right.

 Do you notice the background in a photo? Or the context? Is a plain backdrop or outdoors or something else particularly good or bad?  We don’t need action shots of you in the forest or leaning against a car.

Have you ever met people from a company and they look completely different than their pictures? Did it matter?  Yes, because a lot of people don’t keep the photos updated.  Sometimes they just want to be seen as younger.  But styles change and in a lot of cases, the photos look dated and people will pick up on that.

Do you have any favorite head shot stories of all time?  A friend of mine had a bright light shinning behind his head that made him look like a data god but I told him he need to take it down.  It looked like the cover of a self help book.