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Best of 2011: OG


With a mindset of “Go the extra mile. It’s never crowded,” the photographer known by the initials OG recently went for the long haul in his documentation of the 2011 FADER FORT at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas. Working continuous, exhilarating 12-hour days flanked by two assistants, OG and team toggled frequently between stills and video to capture as much content as possible, in the appropriate medium. Little sleep and a lot of loud music paid off handsomely, as evidenced in the project Web site MEETtheFADER.com.

OG, Austin, TX

Web site: www.ogphotographer.com

Project: Collaboration with FADER magazine to produce a video and photos documenting the happenings at the 2011 FADER FORT.

© OG
© OG

ASMP: How long have you been in business?

OG: Technically, I’ve been in business for close to 10 years. I began freelancing as a visual artist in high school and have been running my business ever since. God continues to bless me with opportunities that let me do what I love.

ASMP: How long have you been an ASMP member?

OG: This is my fourth year of membership in the ASMP.

ASMP: What are your photographic specialties?

OG: Storytelling is my photographic specialty. I try to incorporate the storytelling process in all of my visual work.

© OG
© OG

ASMP: What do you consider your most valuable tool or piece of equipment?

OG: Without a doubt, vision is my most valuable tool. Gear and equipment comes and go but vision cannot be purchased.

ASMP: What is unique about your style/approach or what sets you and your work apart from other photographers?

OG: What is unique about my style is the way in which I choose to tell a story. I tend to see and comprehend situations presented to me differently than most and my approach reflects that. Countless hours over many years of developing my craft is what has led me to this way of creating visuals. My appreciation for filmmaking and cinematography also has a grand influence on my photographic work.

© OG
© OG

ASMP: Please describe the processes and techniques that were central to the making of this work.

OG: The photo half of the project was pretty straightforward. The goal was to photographically document all aspects of what went down at the FADER FORT. The motion half of it was more strategic and thought out. Concepts and storyboards were developed and were used as guides. The goal was to creatively showcase how FADER supporters interact with various FADER touch points. Those touch points include their Web site, their mobile phone app, their tablet and computer digital subscription, their events and their print edition. On the technical side, we handled everything from pre-production through post-production and delivery.

© OG
© OG

ASMP: There’s a slogan in your e-mail signature: “Go the extra mile. It’s never crowded.” How did you put this into practice at the FADER FORT or in any other project?

OG: For me, those words are about work ethic. That mindset was something I was exposed to very early on in life. My grandparents passed it along to my mother and she passed it along to me. We put this into practice all throughout our time at the FORT. An example would be the day we went to pick up our credentials. It was the same day that the wristband pick up went live and the day before the FORT opened. As soon as we got there we saw a line of well over 500 people waiting to pick up their wristbands. I saw that as a story that needed to be documented. We proceeded to make a stop motion video creatively showcasing all of the FADER supporters who showed up. It would have been easier to film the line but we decided to use nothing but photographs to tell the story. In all, we used close to 1,000 photographs. This video was something extra we created for the sake of creative storytelling.

© OG
© OG

ASMP: Was FADER an existing client for you? If so, please describe the extent of your past working relationship. Did you approach them with a pitch to do the FADER FORT project or did they contact you?

OG: FADER was a new client. I met with them in New York a few different times last year. The meetings went great and I was eventually offered the opportunity to document the FADER FORT. The video was something I pitched using a mockup video we produced that was similar in quality to the final product. They didn’t know anything about it until I presented it to them. They liked what they saw and wanted to make it happen. When pitching ideas, I prefer to bring more to the table whenever possible.

© OG
© OG

ASMP: What were the terms of your business agreement with FADER for this project? Was there a written contract in place? If so please talk about any key points that you had to negotiate.

OG: We had a standard agreement in place. FADER knows a thing or two about working with quality visual artists. This is evident in their print edition where showcasing strong photography and other visual art has been an integral characteristic of theirs since the launch of the magazine in the late 90’s.

© OG
© OG

ASMP: What, if any, kinds of permissions did you need to secure in regard to your coverage of this event? Did you get model releases from any of the photographic subjects? Did you need to address releases or licensing of music from any of the bands? Did you need to deal with PR contacts for any of the musical talent?

OG: Being a commission, all of our credentials were already in place. We did secure model releases for some of the images. The only music licensing that needed to be addressed was for use of the song “Cameras” by Matt & Kim within the final video. Fortunately, Matt & Kim are signed to FADER’s record label, FADER LABEL, and securing permission wasn’t a problem. While I enjoy and welcome the opportunity to meet new people, we didn’t deal with any PR reps that week.

© OG
© OG

ASMP: During your work at FADER FORT you switched often between photo and video modes to capture certain happenings in the appropriate format. Did you have a strategy for this in advance or was it determined in the moment? Did you do all the shooting yourself or did your assistants handle the cameras too?

OG: We had a basic strategy in place stemming from our treatment and storyboards. I knew we’d be switching between modes often, so we could properly document something in the more appropriate format. It was a challenge but right up our alley. All photographic and motion work was shot by me. I had two assistants who managed equipment and helped out with anything that needed to be done. I enjoy operating the camera when filming. Composition is extremely important to me. It allows me to embed my style that much more within the visual.

© OG
© OG

ASMP: In a nutshell, what are the most memorable highlights you captured in each format, video and stills? Was there anything you tried to capture in a particular format that just didn’t work out?

OG: All of it was memorable. One of the highlights on the still side had to be when I created the photo of Sean “Diddy” Combs during his performance to close out the FORT. That photo was just featured in the 2011 Communication Arts Photo Annual. That being said, I enjoyed every second of documenting the FADER FORT. No matter if I was documenting Diddy’s time there or a FADER supporter in attendance, a story was being told. On the motion side of things, all of it was equally memorable because we were executing the treatment we developed one piece at a time.

© OG
© OG

ASMP: Since the venue had free admission, it was obviously an incredibly crowded environment to shoot in. What kind of security or admission system was put in place for crowd control? Based on your experience in shooting this type of situation, do you have any advice for others in how to negotiate crowds at this capacity and get good shots?

OG: Weeks prior to the opening of the FADER FORT, an online RSVP system went live, allowing people to get their name on a list for a FORT wristband. A day before the FORT opened, the wristband pick up went live. While a wristband allowed you access inside the FORT, people still needed to make sure they were inside the FORT before capacity was reached. As in prior years, an event and security company was brought in to manage it all. I’ve shot concerts of all sizes over the last 10 years so navigating through large crowds is pretty much second nature. I use “excuse me” and “thank you” often. People attend events for the experience, so I do everything I can to make sure I never take away from it.

© OG
© OG

ASMP: Given the fact that you were working multiple 12-hour days, what kind of work, production or rest space did you have access to at FADER FORT? Was this something that you negotiated specifically as part of a work agreement or contract?

OG: The FADER team had a couple of indoor office setups within the compound. They were constantly updating their thefader.com site with new content they received from their on-site contributors. We utilized the spaces when we were dumping and backing up footage and photos. There wasn’t much time to rest or sit that entire week. I wanted to be sure we were always moving around and ready to shoot something we came across. It goes back to going the extra mile.

© OG
© OG

ASMP: What kind of behind the scenes access did you have and what, if any, were the limitations? Was there any particular location in the venue that was most interesting or where you got your best footage?

OG: We had all-access passes to shoot wherever we wanted, although you could really be standing anywhere within or around the FORT compound and see something interesting taking place. Part of the strategy was to move around each area of the FORT in search of visually appealing content. Once we made our way through it all, we’d start all over in search of new opportunities.

© OG
© OG

ASMP: The FADER FORT venue included sponsored experiences with brands like Pepsi, Guitar Center, Converse and FIAT USA. As an integral component of the event yourself, were you able to forge any relationships with these sponsors or generate content that will be of interest to them for marketing purposes?

OG: I met representatives from each of the sponsors and am currently developing ideas for projects we may be able to collaborate with some of them on. Each of the sponsors had unique and quality experiences set up that allowed for great interaction with FORT attendees. Knowing they are open to creative and fresh ideas makes developing treatments that much more enjoyable.

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© OG

ASMP: Do you license your images/footage and/or sell prints beyond an initial use by the client? If so, what kind of permissions are involved and how do you handle this?

OG: We always keep the option of relicensing of our photo work open when appropriate. It all comes down to the terms we agree on with our client beforehand. Motion work is a bit different and depends on the scope of the project.

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© OG

ASMP: Please talk about the branding of your business. What is the distinction between the two brand names on your Web site, OG and LUXURY MINDZ?

OG: OG is my name and LUXURY MINDZ is the name of my creative company. Everything I do as a photographer, director or by other means, I do under the umbrella of the business.

© OG
© OG

ASMP: Do you have a regular team or support staff for day-to-day business? If so, who do you work with and in what capacities?

OG: I have a regular team of individuals that help out with productions. They’ve been working with me for several years now and know exactly how I prefer to operate. I trust them and know they’ll do whatever it takes to achieve the best results for what we’re working on.

© OG
© OG

ASMP: People can connect to you on Twitter, Facebook, Vimeo and YouTube. In your opinion, what are the relative merits of each, in terms of connecting to new business?

OG: Vimeo and YouTube are great ways to distribute and showcase our motion work. Aside from sharing our content on those portals, they offer anyone not familiar with us a great way to discover our work. Twitter and Facebook are great for sharing work but they are also great for interacting with supporters, clients and potential clients. These portals are solid resources when used in the right way.

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© OG

ASMP: In considering the future and your career, are you most interested to build one identity in business forever, or are you open to changing things up completely from time to time?

OG: I’m all about embracing change and seeing what God has in store. I started designing Web sites in junior high. I moved on to graphic design in high school and soon after added photography and filmmaking to my skill set. In college, I studied business and marketing. As a lifetime learner, I’m obsessed with learning and creating new things. Whatever the future holds, I’m certain creative storytelling and image making will be involved.

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© OG

ASMP: You’ve participated in a local high school program called Destiny By Design. Please talk about your involvement in this project. What did you contribute and what did you get back?

OG: Destiny by Design was an after-school program, in association with Citizens Schools, that took place at Kealing Junior High in Austin. The program focused on culture and career development opportunities within hip-hop. Teaming with several volunteers, the kids were able to tap into their creativity to produce, write, and record their own songs. The volunteers were comprised of Austin artists, producers and DJs, who spent time with the kids to study hip-history and technique. For the first semester of the program, I produced a photo documentary. For the second semester, I produced a rich-media documentary combining photography and motion. Each project was shot over the course of the two semesters. Working closely with the kids was a great experience. I know first-hand how important being exposed to and being inspired by something positive at a young age can impact the rest of your life. I took every opportunity to speak with the kids individually about how they could design their destiny. I know I was able to effectively relate to them because I was once in their position.

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© OG

ASMP: Do you find it to be beneficial to be based in a smaller city with plentiful resources related to your photographic specialty? If you weren’t based in Austin, where else might you consider basing your business?

OG: Austin is an amazing city and being here definitely has its benefits. Being the “Live Music Capital of the World,” one of the advantages is that well known artists come from all over to perform here. We travel quite a bit, so having talent come to us definitely saves us a number of flights back out of town every year. I’ve been contemplating a move to either Los Angeles or New York within the next few years. As we embark upon more film and motion work, the opportunity to expand in that area could be greater if we relocate. Staying in Austin may even prove to be what’s best for LUXURY MINDZ; just look what Robert Rodriguez has been able to accomplish here within the filmmaking industry. Only time will tell.

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© OG

ASMP: Please tell us about your other clients, in and out of Austin. What recent jobs have you done that are the most diverse from the FADER FORT project?

OG: Our clients include local, independent and major record labels, magazines, production companies, artists, bands, creative agencies and others. We are all about quality collaboration. We recently shot a music video for Grammy award winning producer Adrian Quesada’s new group The Echocentrics. This production had me in the middle of the West Texas desert for a few days, sleeping in a tent. It was a fun project to work on.

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© OG

ASMP: One of the images you created during the FADER FORT (of Sean “Diddy” Combs) will be featured in the upcoming 2011 Communication Arts Photo Annual. Do you submit your work to these kinds of competitions often? Do you have a set strategy or allocate a specific budget for this purpose? Has this kind of activity had an impact on your visibility and career, ideally, translating to new clients?

OG: I like to submit to quality visual competitions when we have new work appropriate for them. There is no set strategy other than creating the best work we can at all times. Competitions have contributed some to visibility, which I’m sure has indirectly resulted in work with new clients.

© OG
© OG