Chris Hunt is a fashion and advertising photographer, based in New York, Los Angeles and Mexico City. Originally from California, he has spent the last 15 years living and working in Europe, Asia, Latin America, Moscow and across the United States. Beginning his career as a photojournalist, Chris then moved into fashion photography after working as a model agent for several years in L.A. He has recently broadened his portfolio into film, directing TV commercials for fashion and lifestyle brands.
Chris balances outstanding creative talent with an impressive level of technical expertise, delivering impeccable professionalism and work of the highest quality with a relaxed and friendly attitude.
On the rare moments he is not in his studio, Chris can be found pedaling his road bike through Italy, SCUBA diving in the South Pacific or riding a motocross bike in the mountains of California.
His advertising clients include Google, TELCEL, Mitsubishi Automobiles, Pond's, Samsung, GNC, Chevrolet, Knorr and Garnier. He also works for fashion and beauty clients such as BCBG Max Azria, Herve Leger, Forever 21, bebe, ALDO, Nine West, Macy's, GAP, Banana Republic, Wet Seal, Arden B., Jockey International, Avon, Liverpool, Skechers, Fox Girls, Billabong, Stila Cosmetics and C&A. His work has been published in international magazines including VOGUE, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, Seventeen, Interview, Maxim, Surface, Men's Health, Nylon and InStyle. High profile clients include sports stars Maria Sharapova and Wayne Gretzky and rappers Ludacris, Ice Cube and 50 Cent.
Out West: A Visual Narrative of China’s Westernmost Region
Borrowing from romanticized notions of the American frontier, synonymous with ideals of exploration and expansion, I captured a visual narrative of China’s westernmost region, Xinjiang. Whereas the American West conjures images of cowboys and pioneers, of manifest destiny and individualistic freedom, the Chinese West has not yet been so defined.
It is a place of pluralities—of haunting, expansive landscapes, of rough mountains and vivid lakes, of new construction and oil fields, of abandoned structures in decaying towns, of devout faith and calls to prayer, of silence and maligned minorities, of opportunity and uncertain futures. It is a land of shifting identity. In essence, Xinjiang is the new frontier to be conquered and pondered.
Literally translating to “new frontier” in Chinese, Xinjiang is a land apart, and has been so for centuries. More than twice the land area of France with a population less than the city of Shanghai, the Chinese province of Xinjiang once connected China to Central Asia and Europe as the first leg of the ancient Silk Road. Yet it remains physically, culturally, and politically distinct, an otherness within modern China.
Its infinite sense of space; its flowing Arabic scripts and mosque-filled cityscapes; its designation as an autonomous region; and simmering beneath, its uneasy relationship with the encroaching, imposing, surveilling East.
For China’s ethnic Han majority, Xinjiang is once again the new frontier, to be awakened for Beijing’s new Silk Road — China’s own manifest destiny — with the promise of prosperity in its plentiful oil fields.
For me, Out West is as a much a story of the region as it is his own, as much a documentation of a contemporary and historical place as it is an emotional journey of what it means to strive, and for what. There exists an inherent fascination in the region — as both key and foil to the new China — and a siren’s call to its vast limitlessness that instinctively incites introspection and desire.
Showcasing a romanticism of the frontier, Out West presents Xinjiang via the lens of its present day, in photography that speaks of the surrealistic tranquility — and disquiet — of the unknown.
Out West offers an experience of Xinjiang that highlights its estrangement from contemporary perceptions of the new China, accentuating undercurrents of tension and the mystique it has cultivated—whether in their minds or ours.
At its core, Out West is a question of perspective: What is the West but the East to another?
The text of this photo essay was co-written by Bonny Yau.
About the author: Patrick Wack is a French self-taught photographer who worked in China from 2006 to 2017 as a freelance photographer in the fields of portraiture, documentary and commercial photography. Patrick also focuses on long-term personal projects and is part of the German agency LAIF. His work has been exhibited in Shanghai, Beijing, Berlin, Singapore, Paris and Bordeaux. You can find more of his work on his website.
In the age of Instagram, snapping a photo of a picture-perfect meal before eating it has become something of a ritual (science also suggests it helps food taste better). But one guy has made it a ritual of his own to ruin his friends’ Instagram food photos and capture their horrified expressions.
Kevin Freshwater posted a compilation video showing how his friends react to having their Instagram food snap ruined as it’s being shot (warning: there’s some strong language):
It seems there’s some kind of universal disdain for this type of Instagram photo. In less than a week after being posted online, Freshwater’s video has gone viral, racking up over 250,000 views on Instagram and 41 million views on Facebook.
Moderated by Businessweek Director of Photography Clinton Cargill, “What Photo Editors Want Now” gave photographers in the audience insights into the photography needs of several publications and information that could help them in seeking editorial assignments.
The issue of gender and racial diversity in the photography industry was raised by an audience member during the question and answer period, and there was a consensus among editors that they need to “do better” in hiring photographers with a range of perspectives. But they also shared some of the positive steps they’ve taken to that end. For instance, Jacqueline Bates, the Photography Director of The California Sunday Magazine, which has received the National Magazine Award for Photography for two consecutive years, pointed out that women had shot all of the magazine’s covers in 2017 (their last issue for the year had gone to press at the time of the talk). This wasn’t coincidence. Bates said she’d made it a “personal goal” to have women photographers’ images on the cover of every issue this year.
Toby Kaufman, the Photography Director of Refinery 29, said that it was “paramount to me” that her organization hire women, and that they do a quarterly check-in to gauge their progress. As of their latest assessment, women were responsible for 76 percent of the photography published in Refinery29 this year, Kaufman said. Earlier Kaufman revealed that Refinery29 gives roughly 600 assignments per year, and that one of the magazine’s overall missions is to “embrace women of all shapes and sizes.” Kaufman also mentioned that Refinery29 has partnered with Getty Images to create a capsule collection of stock photography that reflects that vision. They’re accepting submissions for that capsule collection, Kaufman said, which can be “a good way” for photographers to get into working with the publication.
Joanna Milter, the Photography Director at The New Yorker, outlined her magazine’s photography needs in print, which are limited, but she said she has space to run more images online. The New Yorker runs one full-page image to open their “Goings on About Town” section of local events in New York City; they generally run one photo with each story in the feature well; 47 times a year they publish a conceptual photo or illustration to open a short fiction story; and they have a chance roughly five times a year to publish a photo essay in print, Milter said.
Caroline Smith, the photography and visuals editor at Topic, a long-form storytelling site created by the publisher of The Intercept, says she’s publishing photographs, video and illustrations. Smith is particularly interested in combining stills and motion in the same story, and shared a couple of recent examples, including a story shot by Juno Calypso about women freezing their eggs. Topic follows a monthly publishing cadence, like a magazine, Smith says, rather than publishing new content each day. And Topic is interested in receiving pitches from photographers. She wants pitches that are “succinct and pointed” she said, that have a strong point of view, and that are well-researched.
Rolling Stone’s Ahmed Fakhr said he’s often looking for festival coverage and wants to hire photographers who can also shoot video, even if the still images remain the focus of assignments. (For more from Fakhr, see our in-depth interview with him from the October issue of PDN.)
Bates said that the imagery in The California Sunday Magazine, whose stories focus on California and the West, and Asia and Latin America, is generally about people and the places around them, so little to none of their photography is shot in a studio. Bates says it’s important to her to meet with photographers, and likes to hire photographers who are local to an assignment because their familiarity with a place can elevate a story.
The panelists gave examples of the qualities they look for in the photographers they hire. Kaufman said she likes “a collaborative spirit,” a sense of maturity and an “ability to problem solve.” Flexibility and a desire to learn in-depth about the subjects they’re photographing appeal to Bates. Milter said she also appreciates photographers who do their research, while Fakhr emphasized the importance of organization in delivering images and a respect for deadlines. Cargill appreciates a “strong sense of curiosity” and says he also notices when a photographer over-delivers. For instance, if they’re photographing a portrait subject, Cargill appreciates when photographers make other pictures they see during the assignment, or when they work to deliver additional setups.
The panel spoke about what photographers should do when reaching out to introduce themselves. Cold calling is not a good idea. Personalized email does well, and, as we hear constantly from photo editors, photographers would do well to show that they have some knowledge of the publication they’re targeting and why their style might be a fit. Editors still receive too many cold emails from photographers whose visual language doesn’t make sense for their publications. Kaufman asked that photographers appreciate that editors are under pressure and can’t respond to every email, even to say “no, thank you.” She encouraged photographers to reach out when they have new work. And Cargill said it never hurts to send emails alerting editors when you’re traveling in case they have a photo need. Bates said that if you meet with a photo editor and don’t immediately hear from them, it doesn’t mean they aren’t going to hire you. It can sometimes take a year or more for an editor to find the right project, she said.
All of the panelists said that they try to hire photographers locally rather than paying for travel. To that end, geotagging some of one’s Instagram posts can be useful because it allows editors to see where a photographer lives or travels frequently. Panelists said they use Instagram as a tool for tracking what photographers are working on and to find new talent. One panelist mentioned using topic-based hashtags to find photographers.
The service is designed to be minimalist and extremely easy to use. The homepage invites you to drag and drop a photo into the center (once you do, you’ll be asked to create a free account):
Once it receives your photo, the neural network goes to work, upscaling your photo by 4x, removing JPEG artifacts, and “hallucinating” missing details and textures into your upscale photo to make it look natural. You’ll need to wait a couple of minutes for the work to be done, but it’s worth the wait — the results we’ve seen are impressive.
We then resized the image into a 500px wide photo.
Upsampling the 500px-wide photo in Photoshop to 2000px wide using the “Preserve Details (enlargement)” resample option produces a photo with horrible textures (look at the fingers):
But upsampling the 500px-wide photo using Let’s Enhance produces a much cleaner version of the image that magically restores realistic textures to the hands:
Here’s a crop comparison to help you more easily see the difference:
We did a number of other similar tests. Here are the results:
The system is currently weak with things like eye realism, but it excels with things like hair, landscapes, and animals.
Let’s Enhance was founded by Alex Savsunenko and Vladislav Pranskevičius, a chemistry Ph.D. and a former CTO (respectively) who have been building the software over the past 2.5 months.
“We are researchers ourselves,” Savsunenko tells PetaPixel. “We took few state-of-art approaches, hacked around and rolled them into production-ready system. Basically we were inspired by SRGAN and EDSR papers.”
Let’s Enhance is currently in its first version and will continually be improved based on user needs and feedback. The current neural network “was trained on a very broad subset of images that included portraits at about 10% rate,” Savsunenko says. “The idea is to make separate networks for each ‘type’ of image. Detect the type uploaded under the hood and apply some appropriate network. The current version does better with animals and landscapes.”
Every time you upload a photo, three results are produced for you: the Anti-JPEG filter simply removes JPEG artifacts, the Boring filter does the upscaling while preserving existing details and edges, and the Magic filter draws and hallucinates new details into the photo that weren’t actually there before (using AI).
The newly released portrait was shot on Friday, October 6, 2017, by official White House photographer Shealah Craighead. In case you missed it the first time around, here’s what the older “official” portrait looked like:
As you can see, Trump is looking a lot happier in the new portrait and there isn’t a strange blue color cast in the background.
Do photos always need to be technically perfect? In this 10-minute video, landscape photographer Thomas Heaton discusses whether photographers worry too much about the technicalities of a photo, forgetting about what’s actually in the image.
“The best standalone images are those that tell a story, those that make the viewer feel something,” says Heaton.
This image shows water droplets on the lens, but it’s the only part of the photo that makes the viewer appreciate the horrible, rainy conditions Heaton faced on the day. Does that make this a bad photo?
“For me, those water droplets actually really, really add to the image,” says Heaton. “I have no interest in removing them. I think they help tell the story.”
But some disagree. A user commenting on his channel said they were a “shame,” and it was that comment that prompted Heaton to make the video in the first place.
Another shot shows a storm rolling in on the coast, but Heaton admits he missed the focus “by a mile.” However, he doesn’t think it matters. The scene itself, when you’re not pixel-peeping, looks great.
“Photography is full of contradictions,” concludes Heaton. “The truth is it’s all about what happens in the moment. Don’t follow the rules, and don’t shoot for anybody other than yourself.”
Jesse Jo Stark Delivers a Halloween Treat with a Haunting, Live Rendition of “Monster Man”
Emerging L.A. songstress Jesse Jo Stark is a timeless vision from an old Hollywood horror film, and artistically she is able to channel that classic darkness into her music. Gearing up to release her debut full-length record, the singer is on the rise, and with her noir-fused, alternative tracks and an affliction for the spookier side of life, everything about her is about to appropriately haunt your conscience and nightmares.
As Stark prepares for her forthcoming album, she is also set to r…
Tuesday Tip: How to Learn What They Don’t Teach You in Photo School
Before she launched her own career, fashion and beauty photographer Kat Borchart spent five years as post-production supervisor for fashion photographer Dewey Nicks. “It was a huge game changer,” she says. “I got to see everything about what being a photographer is: promotions, treatments, pitches, managing the archive.” She adds, “When I went on set I absorbed everything I could.” She paid close attention to how Nicks worked with clients, handled talent on set, and directed crew. “He shot a lot of celebrities. I saw how he gave them inspiration and direction,” Borchart says. “I also saw the importance of great hair styling and makeup, and [choosing] great locations.”
A year after she started working for Nicks, Borchart started doing her own test shoots on the side, applying the things she was learning from Nicks. That enabled her to build a portfolio that eventually led to her first assignments.
Apple Acquires Camera Sensor Startup Behind QuantumFilm: Report
Apple has quietly acquired Invisage, the camera sensor startup company behind QuantumFilm, according to a new report.
Image Sensors World reports that Apple closed a deal to acquire InVisage back in July 2017, and that some of the employees of InVisage have joined Apple while others were let go.
We first covered InVisage back in 2010, when the California-based startup announced QuantumFilm, a new image sensor technology that was touted as being 4 times more sensitive than traditional camera sensors.
The sensor uses a layer of semiconductor material on top of the traditional silicon sensor, using “quantum dots” to gather light with 90% efficiency compared to 50% of traditional silicon.
Cameras using these QuantumFilm sensors would be boast higher resolution, light sensitivity, and dynamic range, the company said. In its original video introducing QuantumFilm above, InVisage did a side-by-side comparison showing the sensor’s advantages over the iPhone 6:
“While the deal has never been officially announced, I got unofficial confirmations of it from 3 independent sources,” Vladimir Koifman of Image Sensors World writes. Koifman also points out that two of InVisage’s investors, Nokia Growth Partners and InterWest Partners, now list InVisage as having exited on their websites:
If true, this acquisition could help Apple further improve the camera technologies in the iPhone as the smartphone camera wars continue to escalate.
This Music Video is a Weird Photoshop Editing Timelapse
Here’s the new official music video for the song “Do I Have to Talk You Into It” by Spoon. If you’re a photographer who has watched post-processing tutorials online, the concept of this music video will be strangely familiar to you: it’s a Photoshop editing timelapse.
The 4.5-minute video shows the band’s lead singer, Britt Daniel, being edited in Photoshop in all kinds of strange ways, from having his sunglasses edited out and face Liquefied to having his skin and muscles removed to reveal the skeleton within.
And if you’re wondering how any of the edits are done, just use the YouTube video player settings to watch the video at 0.25x speed, and voila! It becomes a silent Photoshop tutorial.