New Book, Doc from Joey L are Both Pretty Awesome

I was just planning to write about Joey's new book today, when he and Cale Glendening up and dropped a free, high-def 43-minute documentary onto Vimeo. Both are inside.

Long story short, cancel any remaining cubicle productivity for the afternoon. Your work can wait.

Photographing Shadow and Light

First off, I'll admit to being a little close to the new book, as I wrote the forward. But in doing so, I was forced to take a close look at the entire body of work of a ridiculously young photographer and what that means for the industry as it exists today.

Joey Lawrence (more commonly disambiguated from the '80's TV heartthrob as Joey L) represents a new genre of photographer in the digital/internet age. We are now in a time where talent and persistence trump age and seniority. Where work succeeds based on merit, not on access to a traditional printing press.

Long-time readers of this site are familiar with Joey, dating back to this early interview. The series was entitled Beers With [Name of Photog}. But seeing as he was only 17, I decided to tweak him by recasting it as Milk With Joey Lawrence.

The joke was on me. The person I met by phone conversation that day was already well on his way to being an accomplished photographer, and the arc of his success was accelerating from there.

You may roll your eyes at the thought of a teenager shooting major movie posters and international ad campaigns and ambitious personal projects but to get to know Joey is to realize that long term vision and perseverance are not necessarily related to age.

Put differently, if you are waiting until you are old enough to be a successful [anything], you are doing it wrong. All of the photos in his book were created when he was 21 or younger. It's as impressive as it is sickening.

Joey's new book is a comprehensive manual into what he does, how he does it and why. Readers of this site will not be disappointed in the amount of behind the scenes info with respect to lighting, logistics, post production and just about anything else you would want.

The overarching theme is one of a person not willing to quit. The body of work—and explanations into how it was done—quickly dispel the sour grapes "must be dumb luck" reaction that I suspect many people have to his hyper success at such a young age. As such, it is a pretty good roadmap for anyone willing to beat their head against the wall hard and long enough to achieve creative success of any kind.

Is it a template for success? Nope. That takes more than a book—something that will be abundantly clear after reading Photographing Shadow and LIght.

But it is, I think, an up-to-the-minute textbook on how the system works for up-and-coming photographers—and what it demands of them.

And here's the thing. I don't think he has really found himself yet. Which is, like, scary exciting to me. Right now, he exists in two worlds. The commercial shoots drive the personal projects, which in turn bring in more commercial shoots. And as successful as he is, he is still somewhat dependent on the commercial photography ecosystem.

I think it is only a matter of time before he figures out how to extract himself from the demands of the commercial work, and devote himself to self-generated work full-time. And to me, that's when things are going to get really interesting.

But for now, PS&L is equal parts inspiration and roadmap for those of you looking to decode the art/commerce environment as it exists today. Especially, especially if you are a young, digital-native photographer exploring your options.

For under $20, [Amazon] Joey L's trail of breadcrumbs is a no-brainer.


And as a very cool bonus, here is the just-released full-length doc that actually features the production of some of the images in the book. It's by Cale Glendening, Joey's frequent partner in crime. It's 43 minutes long, and will leave you with a good sense of who these guys are and what they are seeking to accomplish.


(Note: Vimeo, which is hosting the video, seems to be having some issues. If it is not displaying, you may have to check back in a bit. -DH)


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