PDN Photo of the Day

Do What You Love

Gabriela Herman is a editorial and commercial photographer who specializes in travel, food, lifestyle and portrait work. She travels a lot, and splits her time between New York City and Martha’s Vineyard, where she spends her summers. In a recent email promo, Herman included images from her fifth—and first international—assignment from Condé Nast Traveler. The magazine sent her to Greece for a week to shoot her first cover story for them. Upon seeing these images on a particularly dreary day in New York City, we were envious and asked Herman to tell us more about her trip.

PDN: This seems like a dream assignment—was it?

Gabriela Herman: Yes! I had never been to Greece before, so it was a great opportunity to explore with fresh eyes. I had many moments where I thought, “I can’t believe this is work. I’m getting paid to do what I love doing!” Not many people can say that. I feel extremely fortunate in that aspect.

I want to add, though, travel shoots are not as glamorous as they might seem. There is usually a fairly extensive shot list, shooting everything from landscapes to food to hotels and people each day. When possible, I also like to revisit locations to photograph them at different times of day in varying light. By the end of each day, I’m completely exhausted, especially after uploading and backing up and checking email. Lights are out usually by 9:30 or 10pm.

PDN: What were the planning and creative processes for this assignment?

GH: My photo editor for this was Leonor Mamanna, with whom I had worked previously. (Note: She recently left Traveler to work at Bloomberg Pursuits.) The writer was Lindsay Talbot. Typically the writer will have already gone to the destination and written up a list of places that will be included in their piece. I find it helpful before leaving to get in touch with the writer and see if they have any further specific notes, and also to get [ideas on] any general travel logistics that might be helpful.

Having worked with Traveler before, they know my style and strengths and generally send me on assignments that will make a good fit (as they should) and just give me a list without much creative input. I make sure to hit up everything on the list, but then also always try to explore on my own and find interesting shots along the way.

PDN: What was the editing process like?

GH: Long! On a shoot like this, where I’m literally out shooting all day from sunrise to sunset, I end up with a lot of material. I shot this in September of last year knowing the story wouldn’t run til now [April 2015], so there wasn’t an immediate rush.

Using Lightroom, I typically do a first-pass edit and reject about 60-7 percent of what was shot. In this case, that still left me with about 900 images. Then I’ll go back through those and star images I want to come back to. Then I’ll step away and come back to those those starred images and do some color processing and try to cut down. I’ll repeat that for a bit, until I’ve gotten the edit down to a more manageable number. I turned in around 400 images.

PDN: Anything else you’d like to share?

GH: I wanted to bring an assistant on this shoot, but it wasn’t possible. I ended up hiring someone local, which turned into the best case scenario. I was referred to Angeliki, who wasn’t even a photographer but a local architect who thought it’d be fun to help me out for the week. She was my age and had studied at Harvard, was just cool, spoke the language, had a car and knew how to get to all my locations. She was a blessing and made me want to hire local assistants on all future shoots.

The added bonus was that she and her husband owned a boat, so we were able to go to the remote island of Koufonisia that was added to my shot list halfway through the shoot. That’s what ended up being what was used for the cover. The only downside? I broke my big toe when traversing down a cliff on the island and hobbled around on crutches for my last three days on location! —Amy Wolff

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