Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Diane Cook And Len Jenshel: Master Of Doubling Up
Diane Cook and Len Jenshel merge their photographic talents into a singular vision that serves both art and commerce
|This Article Features Photo Zoom|
Getting editorially useful results is even more incumbent upon Cook and Jenshel when they themselves pitch a story to a magazine, which they often do to get to places they want to shoot but might not otherwise be able to afford. They were looking for a way to return to Greenland, for example, to continue their well-known study of icebergs and glaciers, at a time when Travel + Leisure Golf had been sending them out on golf-related stories. They pitched the magazine a story on the first World Championship Ice Golf Tournament—to be held above the Arctic Circle in Greenland. "We said, 'Imagine golfers playing in parkas at 20 below in a surreal white landscape of frozen ocean, using pink golf balls, with 300-foot icebergs as hazards,'" Cook recalls. "We thought we had a snowball's chance in hell of getting the story, particularly given how expensive the trip would be. But they went for it."
National Geographic has come to expect such pitches from the couple, taking them up on surveys of Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and the Na Pali coast of Hawaii's Kauai. Both of those stories were shot for photo editor Elizabeth Krist, who also asked them to photograph the High Line, Manhattan's regreened elevated park, a retreat much closer to the couple's New York City home. National Geographic photo editor (and former contributing photographer) Sarah Leen has asked them to shoot stories on everything from "green roofs" to the border wall between Mexico and the U.S.
So is there more to editorial photography than money and glory? Is art photography compromised by paid work? "Yes and no," says Jenshel. "One informs the other. Editorial work is very much about problem solving, for example, and this skill has certainly carried over into our fine-art work."
"Assignment deadlines have taught us to be more efficient in all aspects of our photography," Cook concurs. And, of course, the artist's sensibility at the core of their photography makes their editorial work much more than pretty, factual pictures. In the end, it's a thin line.
"There's little or no difference between what we do in the fine-art world and the editorial world," says Cook. "We work hard in both arenas, and always try to integrate the two."
You can see more of Diane Cook and Len Jenshel's photography at www.cookjenshel.com.
Page 2 of 2