Portrait Photographer Susan Seubert Shoots for the New York Times

Assignments from the New York Times are always a great exercise because the turn-around time is often very short.  For most other assignments, I have at least a week or so where I can research the subject, scout the location, and get a sense of what the weather will be like on the shoot date.  Last week I was assigned to photograph for Nicholas Kristof’s Op-Ed about empathy.  The subject of the story had passed away, and it wasn’t possible to cover the funeral because of the deadline for the paper, so I was asked to photograph the story subject’s brother.  I arrived at the location and had a quick look around.  The first image I was asked to make was of Mr. Green holding a photo of his brother.  The best picture available was on a smartphone.  That picture-of-a-picture worked well to show a current image of the subject, but was very literal. It served to illustrate what Kevin looked like prior to his passing.

The possibilities for making a stronger image unfolded within the hour or so I had to complete the job.  The subject was a kind, gentle man who, despite his hurt foot, was willing to walk a short distance to stand in the glorious sunshine.  The idea I had discussed with my editor was to place him in the context of the family farm.  It was a bucolic Oregon scene: an old barn, some rusty farm equipment, and a very willing beagle.  These together provided the setting for our subject.  Mr. Green moved naturally into this position which suggests sadness, so all I had to do was to be sure that the focus and exposure were set properly.  I think it worked well.  What do you think?

Here is a link to the story.

The photos that were used are below.

Clayton Green, brother of Kevin Green, at his family's farm in Yamhill, Ore.

Clayton Green, brother of Kevin Green, at his family’s farm in Yamhill, Ore.  Photographed on location with a Caono 5D Mark III using a 24-105mmL IS USM lens.

Clayton Green holding a photo on a cell phone of his brother Kevin Green, at his family's farm in Yamhill, Ore.  Photographed with a Canon 5D Mark III and a 24-105L IS USM lens.

Clayton Green holding a photo on a cell phone of his brother Kevin Green, at his family’s farm in Yamhill, Ore. Photographed with a Canon 5D Mark III and a 24-105L IS USM lens.

 

Editorial Portrait Photographer Susan Seubert shoots for the New York Times

The published image in the New York Times of Rick Goff

The published image in the New York Times of Rick Goff

This week I was assigned by The New York Times to make an environmental portrait of a man in Yamhill, Oregon for a piece written by Nickolas Kristof, one of the Op-Ed columnists for the paper.  My assignment was to cover a story called, “Inheriting a Hard Life,” and Rick Goff was the subject on which the premise of the article was based.  My missive from the photo editor was to, “think Dorothea Lange in color.”  The late Dorothea Lange is famous for her work as a FSA photographer, most notably for her image, “Migrant Mother.” So with some ideas swirling around in my brain, we hopped in the car and bee lined it to Yamhill because the deadline was virtually the same day we had to shoot.

We arrived at the location and Rick was ready for us. He had apparently already received a copy of the story and was prepared to start shooting.  We spent about an hour working on trying to make some images that best illustrated the point – an attractive portrait in an environment that was a working man’s setting.  Rick was in charge of expression.  He already knew that this wasn’t necessarily a happy story. He was really good at facing the camera which made our shoot go very smoothly.  We worked in several locations and as we were wrapping up, I noticed these great windows.  Since the picture had to be in color and Ms. Lange’s images are all black and white I decided to work with the window area because the colors were very muted.  The wood facade, the window frame, the background and Rick’s posture all came together.  I instantly knew that this was the image they would run.  It’s in today’s New York Times, and although it’s color, it’s very monochromatic.  I’m pleased with the way the image turned out and, as usual, extremely happy to continue to receive interesting assignments from the Times.  Here are a few outtakes as well as some behind the scenes pictures.

Another one of my faves

One of my faves

Another one of my favorite outtakes from the shoot

Another one of my favorite outtakes from the shoot

Loving my 50mm f1.2 - trying out super shallow depth of field

Loving my 50mm f1.2 – trying out super shallow depth of field

On assignment for the New York Times, using a log chair.

On assignment for the New York Times, using a log chair.

The best images come from working in odd spaces

The best images come from working in odd spaces

Thank you for visiting my blog!  Have a great day!

Food Photographer Susan Seubert shoots for the New York Times

Beer flavored ice cream?  Talk about a sweet assignment!  I had to re-read the email to make sure I wasn’t mistaken.  One of my New York Times editors had asked me to photograph the famed Portland ice cream scoop shop Salt & Straw for the dining section.  Apparently, this ice cream store was offering a six-pack of flavored ice creams made with local beer and my assignment was to photograph one of the owners, Tyler Malek, making a batch of ice cream with beer, along with details of the ice cream and some photographs of one of their storesSalt & Straw is a great Portland food story – two young people start a business as a food cart and it takes off into the stratosphere.  I’m not at all surprised after meeting Tyler and his cousin, Kim, who as of today, July 1st, have three stores in the Portland area, each one with a seemingly permanent queue around the block.  All of their ice cream is made by hand and is the best you’ll have without making it yourself.  The flavors they offer are unusual: combinations like Goat Cheese with Habañero and Marionberry or Blue Cheese and Pear, both of which I’ve tried and can say without reservation that they are delicious! For the New York Times piece, it turns out that the beer flavored ice cream isn’t unique to our local scoop shop, but something that can be tasted in places like San Francisco, New York and Atlanta.  This short and sweet piece by writer Andrew Spear will entice you to go out and try some.  With temperatures hitting in the 90’s today here in Portland, I’ll be right there as well.

Ice Cream flavored with beer at Salt and Straw, an ice cream scoop shop in Portland, Oregon

Ice Cream flavored with beer at Salt and Straw, an ice cream scoop shop in Portland, Oregon

photojournalist Susan Seubert shoots for the New York Times

In today’s New York Times, a photograph I made for a story about organic dairy farming was published in the New York Times both online and in print.  The piece is in the Sunday Review section under the opinion pages.  It was written by Nicholas Kristof about a friend of his who lives here in OregonBob Bansen raises Jersey cows in Yamhill County, Oregon, about an hour away from Portland. Eight years ago he decided to go against the grain of dairy industrial standards of pumping cows full of antibiotics and other industrial chemicals and instead, let these milk producers range freely on the grassy plains that surround his dairy.  He has about 300 heifers and he knows each one by name.  It’s an uplifting story about an independent farmer that has a unique relationship with his animals, treats them with respect and produces a quality product working together with his cows.  You can read the story online here.  I’m putting up some outtakes from the shoot because the New York Times only had space for one photo.  It was a joy to meet Bob and some of his lovely gals.  I may have to go have a glass of organic milk to drink while I read the story again.  Moo.

young Jersey cows in the barn. Cute!

Portrait of Bob Bansen, a dairy farmer in Yamhill, Oregon, standing in the pasture with his herd of Jersey milk cows as seen today in the New York Times.

food photographer Susan Seubert shoots for the New York Times

Today, a story I photographed for The New York Times is published in the Dining section of the paper.  The story covers barrel aged cocktails, the latest in high end libations.  Jeffrey Morgenthaller, the bar manager at Clyde Common in Portland, Oregon, was first inspired when he visited a bar in London.  He came back home and started experimenting with the mixture and came up with a nice selection of beverages.  If you find yourself at Clyde Common, you might want to order one of the favorites and most available, the Negroni.  Cheers!

Click here to read the story in The New York Times

I shot this assignment with Canon 5D Mark II cameras, using the 24-105 IS USM lens and the Canon 50mm compact macro for the details.  The images were all processed using Adobe’s Lightroom software.

Editorial Photographer Susan Seubert shoots Chris Solinsky for the New York Times

Because I’ve never been known to be a sports photographer, the call from the photo editor at the sports desk of the New York Times was unexpected, as was the assignment: to shoot a portrait of long distance runner Chris Solinsky at the Nike campus.  He has created quite a stir in the running community by being the first non-African to beat the 26 minute record in the 10,000 meter event.  When I arrived Chris looked like he just got off the bus from the Midwest, dressed in a Hurley t-shirt and shorts.  Not until Nike outfitted him in running attire that I could finally see why he is so newsworthy.  We tried a number of poses, but without putting him in a line-up of other runners, whom he would no doubt dwarf, how was I to visually communicate his stature?  The photo that ran in the article was the one that showed off his musculature.  He’s in a push up position and I’m lying on the ground in front of him, with the camera looking straight at him. You can see the blood rushing to his face as he stayed in this pose for a couple of minutes, which also made the muscles in his arms and shoulders tighten and expand.  It seemed to be the portrait that the editors thought to be most successful, as it’s the picture that ran with the story, which can be read here.

Chris Solinsky for the New York Times

All the images were made with the Canon 5D Mark II and the Canon 50mm 1.2 lens.  The digital files were edited in Photomechanic and processed using Adobe’s Lightroom software.

Portland Photojournalist Susan Seubert shoots for the New York Times

I had the incredible pleasure of spending a day at home with Wendy Burden, author of the forthcoming book, “Dead End Gene Pool.” The assignment was for the Homes and Gardens section of the New York Times and the story was just posted this afternoon on the Times’ web site.  We spent the day photographing her amazing collections of ephemera, her arrangements of said objects and, of course, her.  There is an online web gallery of the photographs on the New York Times’ web site which you can see here. The book is scheduled to be released April 1st and promises to be a fantastic read.  It’s a witty memoir about growing up in luxurious surroundings but in a deeply dysfunctional family.  She is an absolutely lovely woman and I’m looking forward to reading the book.  I’ve pre-ordered it from Amazon and am sad that I won’t be in town for her reading at Powell’s (downtown Portland) on Thursday April 15th.

Click here for the web gallery of photos from the shoot