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Art Producers Speak: John Fulton

A Photo Editor's Blog - 7 hours 47 min ago

We emailed Art Buyers and Art Producers around the world asking them to submit names of established photographers who were keeping it fresh and up-and-comers who they are keeping their eye on. If you are an Art Buyer/Producer or an Art Director at an agency and want to submit a photographer anonymously for this column email: Suzanne.sease@verizon.net

Anonymous Art Buyer: I nominate John Fulton.

"Wrong Tools" campaign for Three Atlanta and CPA Global.

“Wrong Tools” campaign for Three Atlanta and CPA Global.

A young farmer/rancher burns some time after breakfast with a curious audience standing by. Part of a personal series featuring contemporary scenes in the South.

A young farmer/rancher burns some time after breakfast with a curious audience standing by. Part of a personal series featuring contemporary scenes in the South.

"Dirt Wave" motocross in the deep south. Part of a personal series featuring contemporary scenes in the South.

“Dirt Wave” motocross in the deep south. Part of a personal series featuring contemporary scenes in the South.

"Quail Hunting". Part of a personal series featuring contemporary scenes in the South.

“Quail Hunting”. Part of a personal series featuring contemporary scenes in the South.

"Fiddler Over Paris", a lone fiddler bares his soul to the denizens of the 7th arrondissement. Shot for an int'l travel company.

“Fiddler Over Paris”, a lone fiddler bares his soul to the denizens of the 7th arrondissement. Shot for an int’l travel company.

Pro bono series for my home town fire department. Hazmat crew takes one for the team as fire plane dumps it's payload.

Pro bono series for my home town fire department. Hazmat crew takes one for the team as fire plane dumps it’s payload.

"On The Way to Saturday". Campaign featuring college football mega-fans for BBDO.

“On The Way to Saturday”. Campaign featuring college football mega-fans for BBDO.

"Wrong Tools" campaign for Three Atlanta and CPA Global.

“Wrong Tools” campaign for Three Atlanta and CPA Global.

Campaign for Harley Davidson featuring real owners enjoying the thrill of the open road.

Campaign for Harley Davidson featuring real owners enjoying the thrill of the open road.

 "Lake of the Clouds Valley". Personal work captured on a trip to the high Rocky Mountains.


“Lake of the Clouds Valley”. Personal work captured on a trip to the high Rocky Mountains.

Firefighters photographed for South Magazine.

Firefighters photographed for South Magazine.

"We're there for you 24/7/365". Campaign for Georgia Power.

“We’re there for you 24/7/365″. Campaign for Georgia Power.

"For the longest lasting truck on the road". Campaign commissioned for Eaton Global.

“For the longest lasting truck on the road”. Campaign commissioned for Eaton Global.

Recent commission featuring speedo-clad mechanics to illustrate the client's heat generating product.

Recent commission featuring speedo-clad mechanics to illustrate the client’s heat generating product.

How many years have you been in business?
12 years.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
Both but I did the photo degree route. It was a good jumping board but, like most people, I learned more in just the 1st year working in San Francisco about the industry and my own work than I did during all of school.

Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
I was a skater kid in high school and a lackadaisical student, which took its toll on my studies. I took art classes because I thought they would be easy A’s. I connected with the creative arts immediately and felt myself come alive. Originally I wanted to be a sculptor and I worked diligently towards that goal but eventually I found myself sitting in a photography class. Seeing my first image appear in the developing tray was what set the hook. It’s a cliché’ sentiment at this point, but it was like magic. I was also exposed to the work of the great street photographers, especially the masters of composition and light; Cartier-Bresson and Harry Callahan among others. I worked at my local camera store talking with working photographers every day and developing their images late into the evening. It was an exhilarating feeling to see their work before they did and when talking with them about their assignments at pick up time, it became clear to me that this was the life I wanted. I was also able to work with Jim Erickson and Erik Almas through out my first year after school, which was also instrumental.

How do you find your inspiration to be so fresh, push the envelope, stay true to yourself so that creative folks are noticing you and hiring you?
It’s important to me to find inspiration from things other than photography whether that be other visual arts, travel, history, and simply conversing with people who are very different than myself. A lot of photographers choose to keep their exposure to other’s work at a minimal, I do the opposite. I look at an immense amount of images and I keep the ones that speak to me in an archive that goes back over 10 years. They cover the spectrum from photography, design, 3D, and fine arts and I often sift through them making mental notes of the things I like, don’t like, and want to experiment with before my next project.

Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
It varies widely from project to project but limitations can be a blessing. I’ve been studying film making lately and I read something from a feature director awhile back saying that often times he’ll limit himself to just one or two lenses for a whole movie because with every option available for every shot, it can be overwhelming and the images end up being too disjointed. I look at constraints that clients give in that way and it forces me to push my work and grow in a direction that I might not have taken on my own and I walk away with more tools in my creative arsenal.

What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
All the usual things but the most important to me is face-to-face exposure. The path of least resistance is always the most overrun and that right now is doing everything digitally. My reps are also paramount in connecting with buyers.

What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
Showing what you think buyers want to see is a loosing strategy if that’s your main motivation. Even if you’re scoring some projects, you won’t be shooting what you love and the work won’t be as affective as it should be. Ultimately, you’ll end up spending your career working on things that don’t inspire you and that’s not good for you or your clients.

Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
Not as much as I’d like, but I’m working on that. It takes the willingness to say no to paying projects usually but I think it’s a good investment for one’s creative soul. Story telling in still frame, painting, modeling, motion, and writing is always on my mind from when I wake up until I finally go to bed. Lately, I’ve been spending the majority of my non-working time learning 3D modeling which has been a very captivating creative outlet and has already helped land some of my favorite projects to date.

How often are you shooting new work?
It varies from every couple weeks to a month. I prefer to do my own post work whenever possible and if it’s a series of multi-image composites that typically turns a 3 day shoot into a 3 week process from beginning to end but it’s an integral part of what I love about my job and what makes the images I deliver to my clients unique and impactful.

—————–

John is an America photographer born and raised in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. His work is often described as rich, fresh, and authentic. Clients recognize his consistent vision and adamant drive to deliver impactful and affective images through a broad range of subjects.

John is honored to have been included in Luerzer’s Archive Top 200 Advertising Photographers Worldwide and his work has been recognized by PDN, Communication Arts, Hasselblad Masters, Int’l Photography Awards, Prix de la Photographie Paris, American Photographic Artists, Int’l Loupe Awards, and Color Awards. His clients include AT&T, Harley Davidson, Captain Morgan, Airstream, Westin and Hyatt Int’l among others.

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s, after founding the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies. She has a new Twitter fed with helpful marketing information.  Follow her@SuzanneSease.

Categories: Business

What I Instagrammed Vs. What Was Really Happening, Or My Entire Life Is A Lie

A Photo Editor's Blog - 8 hours 1 min ago

Do you want to know how my pictures I shot before I actually captured a photo that both accurately (and attractively) displayed how happy I was in this moment? 56. I hope you’re judging me, because I am.

via Bustle.

Categories: Business

Paperwork is King

ASMP's Strictly Business - 17 hours 18 min ago

With projects being discussed verbally, via email, among multiple people who might not always have exactly the same vision, and referencing a variety of documents, how do you ensure everyone has the same expectations for the project?

Include everything in the Estimate.

By doing this, you have one document that governs the entire project. No digging through emails, no missed emails, no misunderstandings in phone conversations, no differing directions from multiple people, and no working from a different revision of a drawing/layout that you didn’t receive.

The only time I have ever run into issues with a client is when I have a) not had a signed Estimate before starting the project, or b) something in the Estimate was not completely clear.

So, #1 Rule for a any project… GET A SIGNED ESTIMATE BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING.

And, learn from something vague in your Estimate. When this happens, I write up something that is clearer, and be sure to include it in my next Estimate. It only makes your Estimate better.

But, what if something changes after the Estimate is signed?

You have two options.

1.) Significant Changes. Create a new Estimate that states at the top that it supersedes any previous conversations, documents, and agreements… and of course have them sign it.

2.) Minor Changes. Create a Change Order. This can be as simple as an email clearly stating the change, and have your client respond “Approved”. My Subject Line says the following: “Project Name-CHANGE ORDER-_________________ (detail of change)”

If a Change Order is needed and signed, I create a PDF of it, attach it to the signed Estimate, and send the entire document to the client. So again, there is one governing document for the project.

If you ever come across a client that is lackadaisical about contracts and paperwork, that isn’t the time to be lax in your own diligence just to conform to their style. In fact, it is even more important now because the possibilities of miscommunication and a negative outcome are increased significantly.

My clients continually tell me they appreciate that my Estimates are as detailed as they are. They know exactly what they are going to receive from me, what they need to do, and how much everything is going to cost. The fact that there are no surprises, or confusion on items makes their lives so much easier!

Kimberly Blom-Roemer is Gulf Coast based aerial and architectural photography specialist that caters to the analytic tendencies of her clients (A/E/C industry) by providing lots of detail to ensure their projects are successful.

 

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

Avoid conflict; set expectations

ASMP's Strictly Business - Wed, 07/23/2014 - 12:01am

[by Rosh Sillars]

In my experience, client conflicts begin when someone knowingly or unknowingly changes the rules or vision of a project after it is underway. Sometimes it’s scope creep – a bunch of little things that add up over time.

I’ve seen situations where the client has no idea what to expect, the photographer gets to work with no plan, the client blindly follows the photographer and the client is disappointed with the end result. Setting expectations helps prevent conflict and disappointment down the road.

Layout your vision in the beginning, establish your process, state what you expect from your client and when it is due. Ask the client what their vision and expectations for the project are. You may be surprised.

It’s amazing how two people can use the same word and have completely different concepts of its meaning. Especially as it’s applied to your project.  Ask clients to define the meanings of the words they use: What do you mean by natural light, causal, photojournalistic, artistic, lifestyle or formal?

Once you agree on a direction, don’t change it without consulting the client. Never assume they will be good with your new idea or change of plans.  Good communication is the best path to good client relations. It protects both you and your valuable client.

Rosh Sillars is the owner of Image 3 Marketing and the author of four books on the topics of marketing and photography.

 
Categories: Business, Photo Industry

The Daily Edit: Variety Magazine Covers: Bailey Franklin

A Photo Editor's Blog - Tue, 07/22/2014 - 10:15am

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Photographer: Ioulex

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Photographer: Julian Broad

tumblr_n0g6v1e0RK1sxrvmko1_500

Photographer: Platon

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Photographer: Yu Tsai

tilda-swinton-variety-cover

Photographer: Ioulex

 

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Photographer: Pari Dukovic

 

 

Variety

Creative Director: Chris Mihal

Director of Photography: Bailey Franklin

Art Director: Cheyne Gateley

Art Director: Chuck Kerr

Photo Editor: Michelle Hauf

Designers: Kevin Begovich, Vanessa Morsse and Sahar Vahidi

How long have you and Chris been collaborating on covers? You’ve seem develop this wonderful flow of type and image.
​I joined the magazine in February 2013 and Chris came on board that May. We hit it off immediately, which was a huge relief given the incredibly fast pace and overall intensity of putting out a weekly like Variety with such limited resources. He always has ideas and opinions but never gets so married to them that it slows down the process. This applies to photographer selection as well, and I am lucky that he always defers to me when it comes down to the final decision. ​Chris has the ideal balance of vision and flexibility and I really couldn’t have asked for a better Creative Director.


I’ve noticed the covers are getting tighter on the subjects, the expressions more intense, which is refreshing for a cover image. How did this look unfold?
​Since we aren’t a newsstand-driven publication, we have the luxury of putting our strongest single image on the cover every week. We also don’t have to deal with cover testing like at most publications. In the end it comes down to what options Chris and I recommend to editors that will make for the best cover. That said, we love the intimacy and power of a great, tight portrait and like the way it differentiates us from other magazines, especially those with lots of cover lines. We have also been lucky to get some really great faces to photograph.
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Photographer: Peter Hapak

 

When did the cover series or multiple runs start to become more regular? 
Did it start with the Power of Women Issue, and then roll into the recent images by Peter Hapak?
​Yes, when we have situations with multiple cover talent that can’t be in the same space at the same time,​ we have (thankfully) opted to do split runs
​and have so far avoided what we refer to as Frankenstein covers. With Peter, we loved his multiple exposure images and wanted a way to give those covers a separate identity from the other black and white portraits he shot of Christina, Aaron and Allison (as well as 49 other actors and actresses) for the Emmy stand alone issues that came out the week prior. We’ve done it three times before, first with Power of Youth (5), and Power of Women LA (5) and NY (6).


You are working with stars, I assume it’s perhaps easier to direct them?
​Although everyone has been very professional, most of our cover subjects are not particularly interested in pushing things beyond your standard flattering portrait. ​They generally have a very strong idea of how they want to be presented, even if it goes against the expressed angle of the story. This really comes up whenever we have a specific concept that we are trying to convey through wardrobe or props. In some ways it has been the kind of limitation that is a blessing rather than a curse as it enables us to focus more on the choice of photographer and what he/she can bring to the equation regardless of the subject’s participation. I liken it to having very limited control over the specific ingredients of a dish but incredible freedom as to the particular chef and cuisine we feel makes the most sense.




About how much time do you typically get for cover shoots?
We generally get between 30 and 60 minutes of camera time with any given subject. 15-20 is not unusual depending on the logistics of the shoot. It took me a long time to not panic at this, but since we don’t really need clothing changes most of the time, 30 minutes has proven to be enough to get what we need. We make a point of letting people go as soon as we have it, no matter how quickly that is. Some of our best results have come in under 2 or 3 minutes.

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Photographer: Craig Cutler

Humor and wit surfaces from time to time on the covers. Describe your cover process, what drives that image? 
​Humor is tricky, because it is so subjective on top of what is frequently an already subjective response to the photography by everyone involved in the final decision. With the Sex on TV cover we ​were lucky to have a concept that lent itself to visual interpretation, not to mention sex. I felt that there was something smart and fresh that could still be done using the naked human body, but it was our Art Director Cheyne Gately who sketched out the boom mic as fig leaf idea. Once we saw that we knew we had to go with it. Craig Cutler was a perfect fit as he has just the right balance of dry humor and dramatic lighting. As it happened on a super rush turnaround, his ability to help with casting the models and source the props with blinding speed was also key.

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Photographer: Bart Cooke

How did Kermit end up upside down?
​That was an example of Chris making something great out of a tricky situation. Bart Cooke took fantastic images of Kermit and Piggy, but we were VERY limited in terms of how we were ultimately able to shoot them. There was debate up until the last minute as to how Disney might interpret showing Kermit upside down, as it didn’t really relate in any literal sense to the headline or thrust of the story. We didn’t let up pushing for what we felt was fun, playful and totally unexpected, and in the end the editors decided it was worth the risk. Fortunately, Disney loved it, and distributed copies at the movies premiere the same day the issue came out.

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Photographer: Ture Lillegraven

Does publishing weekly give you more creative freedom? 
(There’s very little time to second guess)
​
Yes, I would say that putting out 50-odd issues a year gives us more opportunities to take risk​s compared to the pressure that monthly magazines put on their individual covers. Another benefit is if one doesn’t work out as planned for some reason, we aren’t stuck staring at it for a month. In some cases the specifics of a given deadline have informed the creative. For example, our post Oscar issue of Alfonso Cuaron had to be shot the morning after he won and sent to the printer by midnight the same day to make our deadline. That’s how the reference of the iconic morning after portrait of Faye Dunaway by Terry O’Neill came up. The last thing we wanted to do was recreate it, so the challenge was to do something that would resonate with someone familiar with the image but still look like a Variety cover and have photographer Ture Lillegraven’s unique voice. More of a wink than an homage, if that makes sense.

Variety had been publishing since 1905, over the years variety has developed it’s own slanguage or varietyese, (e.g.  boffo (box-office biz) sitcom,  and payola ) Are you trying to do the same visually with your cover portraits? Develop a visual language?
​Funny that you mention it, because we were just talking about the importance of keeping an open mind in terms of what makes for a “Variety cover.” One thing we definitely want to avoid is ​a rigid formula. That kind of sameness would be even more pronounced with a word like variety printed across the top of it. Our primary goal is to have covers that are elegant, smart and graphic. Beyond that, we are hoping to surprise our readers and ourselves from week to week.

Categories: Business

FUSEVISUAL - 5 Questions | 5 Answers | 5 Images

Photo Business Forum - Tue, 07/22/2014 - 7:37am
For almost a year now, the website FUSEVISUAL has been doing insightful interviews of a number of photographers from around the world. Recently, I was interviewed (here), and found myself sharing a number of things with my interviewer, Cameron Davidson, I hadn't intended to. I've been following the site for some time, and while some of the photographers I know (Renee Comet, Robert Seale, Seth Resnick, Chris Crumley, and Susana Raab, many I don't. Cameron (whom I have known for many years) takes a surprisingly in-depth look at each of them, and it's refreshing.

The concept is simple - 5 questions and their answers, along with 5 images. The idea, of course, is to draw in viewers to see, as the founders write "to deliver a site that uniquely showcases visual communication experts", but the mission is to not only share the answers and images, but also to make a difference through charitable contributions both in the United States, and Haiti. Their "Give" page details these charities, and encourages others to get involved.

So, go check out FUSEVISUAL, not because I'm featured there, but more importantly, because they're doing good and you just might learn a thing of two (or a dozen) about how other creatives have mastered their craft, as a part of your journey to master yours.

(Comments, if any, after the Jump)
Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.
Categories: Business

Resolving Conflict

ASMP's Strictly Business - Tue, 07/22/2014 - 12:01am

[by Jim Cavanaugh]

As a business owner, some level of conflict with a small number of your clients is inevitable. The conflict can be over price, change orders, ownership & use, quality, deliverables, deadlines and more. The first key to resolve these types of conflicts is to endeavor to prevent them from happening. Most often, the conflict arises from the client’s unmet expectations and is the result of unclear communication.

The first step is to have excellent paperwork (estimates, invoices, etc.) that clearly outlines exactly what you will provide for your client. It should also clearly spell out the clients responsibilities. This includes e-mail communications between you and your client. Save everything!

When conflicts arise, you can often go back and find the seeds of the conflict in past conversations and e-mails with your client. If something seems unclear, take immediate steps to clarify it. Don’t make assumptions, especially with standard industry practice issues that you think they know and understand. They often do not.

If a conflict does arise with your client, there are a number of steps you can take to help keep a small problem from becoming a large one:

Don’t ignore the problem.
None of us enjoys addressing an angry client. But ignoring the problem will not make it go away and likely will make it worse.

Don’t jump the gun.
While not ignoring a problem, immediately jumping in while you are upset or angry can quickly escalate the problem. Follow the old advice; “sleep on it”. Once you are past the heat of the moment, the issues will appear much less dramatic. If it’s not critical, I’ll usually wait until the next morning to contact my client. And, your client is probably in a less agitated state as well.

Talk things through.
A personal phone call or personal visit will be far more effective than a text or e-mail. Ask your client to tell you about the concern and then listen carefully. Don’t interrupt or try to make your case. And keep the conversation calm and professional, even if your client does not.

Seek a solution.
Reiterate his concerns in your own words. If he agrees you understand, then ask the most important question, “What do I need to do for you to resolve this problem?” If it is something you can do easily without financial, legal or ethical implications then let them know that you will take care of the issue immediately. This easy going approach will often disarm even the most agitated client.

There will be times when you may not be able to easily resolve the issue due to something contrary to your estimate terms or policies. Simply end the conversation by saying you will review the paperwork and get back to them within 48 hours. This will give you time to properly prepare a reply and the supporting documents to substantiate your position.

In the very rare cases where the conflict escalates and requires professional assistance to resolve, having detailed notes of your conversations and retaining all paperwork and written communications will be critical. But by using the above suggestions, you will find taking this final step will be a very rare occurrence.

Jim Cavanaugh is an architectural & aerial photographer based in Buffalo, NY. He served as a Director of ASMP for 12 years and as the Society’s President.

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

Do’s And Don’ts For Finding A Commercial Photography Agent

A Photo Editor's Blog - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 10:29am

This guest re-post comes from Mark Winer at The Gren Group. The original post appeared here.

We’ve added some new talent to our roster recently, and with that often comes questions from photographers about how to find representation. So this is for you, the aspiring photographer searching for that perfect relationship with an agency representative. There is (as of this writing) no match.com for the photography industry – so we are are going to summon up 18 years of experience and give you the tools for your big search.

Rather than writing a long dissertation on the process of finding a rep, we’ve decided to give you a Cliffs Notes version – a handy, tried and true list to follow throughout your search. Please keep in mind this is aimed at photographers who are interested in working with agents who have mostly commercial clients. The TOP TEN Do’s and Don’ts below will vary based on your objective.

Here goes:

DO’S!

DO know that we get between 15 and 20 unique photographer requests each month. We may add just one new photographer a year, so you really need to stand out.
DO your research. Personalize your message to the rep you’re reaching out to and reference something worthwhile and specific. Find some common ground.
DO prove your business model. Show us that your own photography skills and marketing efforts have gotten you enough work where you need a business partner to help manage your growing business.
DO know thyself. What kind of photographer are you? Fashion? Lifestyle? Conceptual? Still Life? You should come to us already with a strong brand and self identity. We should be able to ‘know’ you in 90 seconds or less.
DO support the US Postal Service (before they close your branch)! Mail us samples of the great promos you’ve been sending to clients.
DO share your most recent commercial success stories – recognizable brands really get our attention. This is kind of a ‘what have you done lately’ business.
DO tell us about the industry trade shows you’ve attended and the Art Producers or Creative Directors you’ve met with recently. Feel free to name drop – we may have connections in common!
DO be respectful, appreciative and humble. A good personality goes a long way.
DO be patient and realistic. This is a relationship business. It can take years for the rep to build relationships with both clients and photographers.
DO have a reasonable advertising & promotion budget. Attracting the attention of ad agency clients, and building relationships with them, can require an extensive financial commitment.

DON’TS

DON’T email us generic comments like “new website!” or “just want to take my photography to the next level”. Be creative – include the whats, whens and whys. First impressions are important!
DON’T worry if we don’t get back to you right away. We make every effort to respond to all requests – which can sometimes take several days or weeks, depending on our workload.
DON’T be a beauty, fashion, conceptual or product photographer if you’re reaching out to us. Nothing personal, just not our area of expertise. Do your research first, and know the agent – there are plenty of great reps who market celebrity & automotive work.
DON’T be lazy. Success in this business requires a ton of ambition, passion, and a positive outlook. Enthusiasm is contagious – clients and reps can feed off your energy.
DON’T worry if most of the projects come from your leads in the first year or two. That’s to be expected. After all, you’ve been promoting your own commercial work for the last 5-10 years, and we’ve just gotten started.
DON’T send us a personal Facebook request after just one email. We’re big fans of social media, so show us you know the difference between networks like LinkedIn, Twitter, etc …
DON’T be a photographer with only personal, fine art or wedding work. It may be beautiful, but we are advertising assignment reps – the work must be commercially viable and contain high production value.
DON’T be a prima donna. Character is very important – we prefer humble, appreciative, collaborative and genuine.
DON’T get bogged down into thinking that you must have a rep to build your business! Plenty of great photographers have achieved commercial success without representation.
DON’T get frustrated if you have no luck getting a rep in the first few months (or years) of trying. Take that as a sign that you have to continue working harder and smarter to appeal to an agent.

Hope this helps a little. The right photographer/agent partnership can be a great thing – creative, challenging, lucrative, rewarding and fun. It’s also a lot like a marriage, whose success relies on mutual understanding, respect and communication. And like a marriage, know your partner well – maybe even consider living together for awhile first – the goal is to be together for a long time.

Good luck in your search!

Categories: Business

Part Of Being A Great Photographer Is An Innate Gift For The Drive To Do It

A Photo Editor's Blog - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 10:20am

I think that part of this (being a great photographer) is an innate gift. I think that all artists, whatever the medium, have some genetic luck. That gives them the drive for whatever the talent is, painter, writer, musician, photographer. There’s something that’s deep within their soul.

I use to tell photographers that I believe great photographers, artists, whomever have a third eye. Many decades ago I was weaving and doing rugs I remember looking down at my hands and being in wonder of what they were doing. I’d say to myself, just stay out of their way. Get out of the way and let them do what they do. I think the same thing is true with photographers.

When they are really good it’s intuitive. This is what happens when they don’t over think it. That is what Bresson says.

via Karen Mullarkey – An Interview Part Two.

Categories: Business

Communicate Fully to Prevent Conflicts with Clients

ASMP's Strictly Business - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 12:02am

[by Tom Kennedy]

Preventing conflicts with clients is part of a being a true professional. Creating opportunity for the client-photographer relationship to flourish requires patience, attention to detail, and good communication throughout the assignment process from the initial contact to the final product delivery.

Avoiding conflicts starts with asking relevant, probing questions about how a client is framing an assignment request and why they are seeking the assignment as a solution to a particular business need. Often that need is at the heart of a business problem, like engendering a particular response from an audience for a product or service. The photographer has to ask enough to get a clear picture of the underlying reason for the assignment and why the client may think that a particular visual solution is the best response. Failing to probe sufficiently for the “why goal” of the assignment request can be the first step down a wrong path.

Once the business need is laid out and fully explored, a photographer has to make a decision as to whether his or her skills match the assignment requirements, while also making a decision about the whether the assignment requirements being framed will actually satisfy the business need being expressed. If sufficient exploration of the core need hasn’t been conducted, the photographer may be intending to do a shoot that really won’t address the true need. Often, a client may not have fully thought through the impact of producing a particular kind of visual solution and may be framing the assignment based on what has been done in the past or seen elsewhere. Always, a client needs to view the photographer as a partner in providing the optimal solution to the business need at hand. That requires the photographer to demonstrate a grasp of alternatives and articulate effectively the pros and cons of each approach.

Once full clarity and mutual agreement about the assignment requirements have been arrived at, it is crucial for a photographer to spell out all key relevant assignment details to a client and express the rationale for the approach about to be undertaken one last time. That way, if anything is not clear to a client, he or she is being given the chance to react and weigh in with questions.

I think it is equally valuable to keep a client apprised of progress, particularly during an extended shoot. While opinions on this approach may differ, I like the idea of staying in contact with a client when unexpected obstacles emerge that may impact assignment parameters. Yes, ultimately the photographer must solve the problem, but letting a client know that a change is going to need to occur to ensure assignment success, and providing clear, precise information about why the change is necessary helps to allay any suspicions about the motivation. I don’t see this as s sign of weakness or uncertainty. Instead, I think it demonstrates the good faith of the photographer and shows a motivation to help the client succeed too.

Tom Kennedy is an independent consultant coaching and mentoring individual photographers, while also working with various organizations to train individuals and teams on multimedia story creation, production, publication and distribution strategies for digital platforms, and enhancing creativity. He also regularly teaches at Universities and multimedia conferences. He has created, directed, and edited visual journalism projects that have earned Pulitzer Prizes, as well as EMMY, Peabody, and Edward R. Murrow awards.  He can be reached at kennedymedia@gmail.com.

 

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

Client Conflicts

ASMP's Strictly Business - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 12:01am

Conflicts with clients can keep even the most jaded photographer up at night.  Not only can they cause anxiety and dread but they can have a real impact on your bottom line.  This week, our contributors share their collective expertise on how to minimize the chances of conflicts with your clients and what to do if they happen anyway. ~ Judy Herrmann, editor

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

This Week In Photography Books: Anders Petersen

A Photo Editor's Blog - Fri, 07/18/2014 - 11:01am

by Jonathan Blaustein

The grass is always greener. So they say. I’m keeping that in mind as I try to relax into my staycation this summer. No use envying other people’s holiday photos on Instagram.

Sometimes these aphorisms carry deep wisdom. “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” That’s the cycle of history in one short sentence. Impressive. (Certainly terser than a blustery treatise on why Vlad Putin’s aggression in Ukraine is hardly avant garde.)

There’s another that’s been on my mind lately. “Wherever you go, there you are.” It’s practically koan-ic.

As our longtime readers know, I did a lot of travel writing for APE from 2010-13. It was something of a dream, to wander about as a part of my job. And I got to visit amazing museums and galleries to boot. Not bad.

Eventually, I realized I was no happier in London or New York or New Orleans than I was at home, and the post-trip crashes were brutal. I might have been a tad more charming on the road, or higher on adrenaline, but I was still me. Still perpetually stressed about keeping all the balls juggled, and the children fed.

Late last year, my desire to travel began to wane. I realized that if I could be happier at home, more content in my own skin, I might not need to be somewhere else to be a better version of myself.

Some people don’t need a happy ending, though. Euro films have been cranking out depressing, dour, dimly-lit dandies for decades. (And to think, my college writing professor told me alliteration was too obvious.)

Furthermore, what must it be like in Scandinavia in the dead of winter? Saturated Color doesn’t exist. SunLight is a rumor. Who’d be happy then, or even believe such a concept as happiness was anything other than naive voodoo? (If I lived there, I’d be addicted to cigarettes, vodka and Internet porn in weeks…just kidding.)

Anders Petersen channels that energy as well as anyone. Not in a sense of depression, per se, but a celebration of joyous nihilistic depravity. He deifies the drunk at the end of the bar; an understandable response to the absurdity of existence. (I saw, but never reviewed, the lurid “Soho” from MACK.)

Wherever Anders Petersen goes, there he is. A year after a 2012 earthquake in Northern Italy, he was invited to the Emilia area by Studio Blanco, to take Anders Petersen photos. Or so we are told at the end of “To Belong,” his new book published by SlamJam.

We get the explanatory essay at the end, and the title on the back cover. I suppose you have to do things differently these days, if you want to stand out. Shake it up, as it were. (In fact, the closing statement does dedicate the book to those whose lives have been shaken.)

It opens with the obligatory boob shot, (Boobs Sell Books℠) but then cascades through stuffed animals, a mountain-lion in a cage, odd dolls, a crotch-shot with a girl stretching her leg over her head, some seriously strange-looking old people, some surprisingly hopefully portraits, and rubble and dancing and Dora the Explorer. (The rubble makes more sense upon second viewing.)

We get to see one of my favorite creepy-awesome-weird photos of all time, on par with Asger Carlsen, with some dude’s chest-hair growing up through a tattoo of the Virgin Mary. I felt like spiders were crawling on my spine, while I stared at it.

There’s a recurring symbol of flexible-connecting tubery, which I didn’t quite figure out. (The need to contort oneself to survive among human kind, especially in the face of a natural disaster? Good guess?)

The book is also made a little differently. The pages are two pieces of paper sandwiched together. They turn easily, though. It makes for a rather beautiful object, in addition to a sumptuous collection of images.

And how’s this for a message takeaway: the Earth crumbles beneath our feet, occasionally. Life falls apart along with it. And yet we endure. So you might as well let a little of the crazy in while you’re here.

Bottom Line: Very cool book built upon an earthquake-shaken foundation

To Purchase “To Belong” Visit Photo-Eye

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Books are provided by Photo-Eye in exchange for links back for purchase.

Books are found in the bookstore and submissions are not accepted.

Categories: Business

Will Photograph For Food

ASMP's Strictly Business - Fri, 07/18/2014 - 12:01am

[by Pascal Depuhl]

Everything is important. But one thing is more important than everything.

If you want to avoid standing on a street corner with a cardboard sign reading: “Will photograph for food,” there’s really only one thing you need to know. When you’re starting out as a photographer, everything seems important; buying equipment, getting your workflow right, figuring out business processes, advertising your services, creating your brand … but one thing is more important than all others, because without it, noting else matters: getting hired.

Unfortunately I’ve got some bad news: You constantly have to adjust what you do to be hired. It changes from client to client, from year to year, from advertising platform to advertising platform. (You know no one used Facebook to promote their business 10 years ago, right?) You are not going to stop refining how you go after work – ever.

The good news is that there are myriads of ways to keep your work front and center in the minds of your (potential) clients. The only common denominator is: you need to hustle, you have to build relationships, you must put your name out there.

What’s your marketing plan?

Here’s where you can start: google your business (I googled mine: “Photography by Depuhl” – you can do me a favor and google it, too – I’d love to see how Google displays them where you live. Email me (photography@depuhl.com) a screen shot and I’ll post them on my blog. Ok, thanks!) Back to your search of your business: What pops up? Is there a business listing on Google? How about reviews from clients? Or worse, bad reviews? Complaints? Nothing?

Google-Search-Results-for-PbD1-220x300Before you go and buy that cool camera, take some time and plan out your marketing strategy. (ASMP member Rosh Sillars has a great basic social media plan for photographers on his blog.)

If you’re a wedding shooter, Facebook will be invaluable to you, letting your clients share your awesome photos with their friends who will hopefully see your amazing work and book you. I am a commercial photographer – my clients don’t use Facebook to search for their photographer – although I did get one of my biggest clients on Facebook – but there are so many more places online Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram…with new ones coming all the time.

Just remember it is social media – there needs to be a relationship, that gets nurtured. Maybe the initial point of contact is your Facebook post, LinkedIn profile or tweet, but then the real work begins. As hard as it is to get a new client, it is much more important to keep that client so that you get hired for his next job.

Don’t stop. Just hustle. Use every tool at your disposal to contact the client as close to the moment of relevance. For instance I use web technology that emails me the second a potential client contacts me through my website. An iPhone app let’s me decide if I want to call or email a response then or when I get back into the office. How long does it take for you to email a prospect back?

How do you promote yourself?

Don’t stop at social media. Get your name out there and remember you’re not gonna stop doing that for as long as you are a photographer. Here’s some of what I’ve done in the last few months to promote my work: won “Best of ASMP” contest; screened my documentary at a film festival; gave a TEDx talk on how Art changes minds; volunteered to help produce video workshops, represented ASMP at local events… Tweet me how you promote yourself.

If you have any questions about how to get started, especially building a network, hit me on Twitter @photosbydepuhl See how many different social media and websites you can find me on online. The person who tweets or facebooks me with the most comprehensive list, wins a DVD and poster of “On Wings of Hope“.

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

In The World We Find Ourselves In Today, Hard Work Isn’t Enough

A Photo Editor's Blog - Thu, 07/17/2014 - 11:00am

…you’d better understand how to deploy those design skills in a way that helps solve business problems for your clients.

…the select few who are going to thrive in the months and years to come are going to be the ones who can tell a complex story across a range of media in a simple, clear and elegant way.

via AIGA | Apple’s Creative Director Alan Dye on Why Great Design Skills Aren’t Enough.

Buying a new website?
APhotoFolio.com builds portfolio websites for photographers.
Have a look (here).

Categories: Business

Art Producers Speak: Reed Young

A Photo Editor's Blog - Thu, 07/17/2014 - 10:56am

We emailed Art Buyers and Art Producers around the world asking them to submit names of established photographers who were keeping it fresh and up-and-comers who they are keeping their eye on. If you are an Art Buyer/Producer or an Art Director at an agency and want to submit a photographer anonymously for this column email: Suzanne.sease@verizon.net

Anonymous Art Buyer: I nominate Reed Young. He is an editorial photographer whose work has so much story in it that I always stop and spend time with it. He really deserves some exposure for being interesting, thoughtful in the topics he covers and insightful in the compositions he depicts.

NOTE: Reed was nominated twice by two Art Producers from different agencies that have great reputations.

Angelo Maggi, the Italian voice actor for Tom Hanks

Angelo Maggi, the Italian voice actor for Tom Hanks

 “I like that she often said that women should be liberated, that men shouldn’t limit them, that a woman should be the way she wants to be.”

“Goldie” crossed the border when she was 16 and started dancing at a topless bar where most of the dancers were illegal immigrants from Juarez. She soon left that life behind, and now she owns Goldie’s Bar, a tiny cantina in an industrial section of south central El Paso. The walls of Goldie’s Bar are littered with pictures of her hero, Marilyn Monroe: “I like that she often said that women should be liberated, that men shouldn’t limit them, that a woman should be the way she wants to be.”

Bryan Toovak is a 7-year-old living in Barrow, Alaska. He goes to this playground from spring to fall despite the below-zero temperatures. On this rather mild spring day in early May, temperatures rose to almost 25 degrees Fahrenheit (-4 degrees Celsius).

Bryan Toovak is a 7-year-old living in Barrow, Alaska. He goes to this playground from spring to fall despite the below-zero temperatures. On this rather mild spring day in early May, temperatures rose to almost 25 degrees Fahrenheit (-4 degrees Celsius).

Konishiki Yasokichi is a 45-year-old one of Japan’s most recognizable celebrities. Now that he’s retired from Sumo Wrestling, the sport that made him so popular, he’s become a hip-hop artist and host of his own children’s television show. He was the heaviest sumo wrestler of all time weighing 580 pounds(264 kg). Two years ago he underwent gastric bypass surgery and has lost much of the weight that previously threatened his good health.

Konishiki Yasokichi is a 45-year-old one of Japan’s most recognizable celebrities. Now that he’s retired from Sumo Wrestling, the sport that made him so popular, he’s become a hip-hop artist and host of his own children’s television show. He was the heaviest sumo wrestler of all time weighing 580 pounds(264 kg). Two years ago he underwent gastric bypass surgery and has lost much of the weight that previously threatened his good health.

Felicia raises three of her grandchildren in small community deep in the sugar cane fields of the Dominican Republic. The family was supported by her husband’s pension until three months ago when he passed away. She lives in one of the few barracks that survived Hurricane George. She believes that the Lord will sustain her during this difficult time in her life.

Felicia raises three of her grandchildren in small community deep in the sugar cane fields of the Dominican Republic. The family was supported by her husband’s pension until three months ago when he passed away. She lives in one of the few barracks that survived Hurricane George. She believes that the Lord will sustain her during this difficult time in her life.

Seven days a week, 23-year-old Galson Mgaya rides from his remote village of Mtwango to the nearest city of Makambako, Tanzania. He straps 20 chickens to the back of his bicycle and then sells them in the city for twice what they’d go for in his small town. The trip takes him 3.5 hours each way, but it’s worthwhile because he makes about $8 each day. His daily profit helps support his parents and two sisters.

Seven days a week, 23-year-old Galson Mgaya rides from his remote village of Mtwango to the nearest city of Makambako, Tanzania. He straps 20 chickens to the back of his bicycle and then sells them in the city for twice what they’d go for in his small town. The trip takes him 3.5 hours each way, but it’s worthwhile because he makes about $8 each day. His daily profit helps support his parents and two sisters.

Many Brownsville residents say the area has more sneaker stores than after-school programs. Brownsville Brooklyn has only three sneaker stores. A few years ago, Penny began hosting an informal after-school program so that children in her building would have a safe place to go after school.

Many Brownsville residents say the area has more sneaker stores than after-school programs. Brownsville Brooklyn has only three sneaker stores. A few years ago, Penny began hosting an informal after-school program so that children in her building would have a safe place to go after school.

Minh Le is an unofficial spokesman for the Vietnamese community in Bayou La Batre, Alabama. Approximately one-third of the town’s population is of Asian descent, and of those, most are Vietnamese. Adopted by an American serviceman during the 1960s, Minh returned to his native Vietnam in the ’70s to act as an advisor to the US Navy. When he retired from the Navy, he moved to Bayou La Batre and bought several shrimp boats, including The Sunrise, pictured here. After the BP oil spill, Minh outfitted his boats to help with the cleanup efforts.

Minh Le is an unofficial spokesman for the Vietnamese community in Bayou La Batre, Alabama. Approximately one-third of the town’s population is of Asian descent, and of those, most are Vietnamese. Adopted by an American serviceman during the 1960s, Minh returned to his native Vietnam in the ’70s to act as an advisor to the US Navy. When he retired from the Navy, he moved to Bayou La Batre and bought several shrimp boats, including The Sunrise, pictured here. After the BP oil spill, Minh outfitted his boats to help with the cleanup efforts.

Comedian John Oliver for The Guardian.

Comedian John Oliver for The Guardian.

An advertisement for Dixan, an Italian laundry detergent.

An advertisement for Dixan, an Italian laundry detergent.

Bomb dog training school for Smithsonian Magazine.

Bomb dog training school for Smithsonian Magazine.

Inside the offices of Etsy for Inc. Magazine.

Inside the offices of Etsy for Inc. Magazine.

How many years have you been in business?
I’ve been doing freelance assignment work for 7 years.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I graduated from Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara.

Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
There are many. I’ve always been inspired by the work of Irving Penn and Richard Avedon. When I was in photography school, Steven Meisel and Steven Klein inspired me to try and become a fashion photographer. But I learned early on that it wasn’t fashion I loved but the stylistic use of lighting. So I applied it to what I was most interested in –- portraiture.

How do you find your inspiration to be so fresh, push the envelope, stay true to yourself so that creative folks are noticing you and hiring you?
I was never a good writer, so photography became an excuse to be a storyteller in a different way. I shoot at least two personal projects each year on subjects that interest me. For example I lived in Italy from 2006 to 2009, and while I was there I became fascinated with how American films are always dubbed into the Italian language instead of subtitled. After some research I learned that Italians have grown attached to the voices they associate with each Hollywood actor – so much that they’ve come to expect the voice of someone like Tom Hanks to always be the same person. This inspired me to spend a month in Rome photographing the dubbers in recreated scenes from their characters most iconic roles. Last month The New Yorker featured the story, which has already led to some exciting new opportunities.

Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
When it comes to advertising, I look at every assignment as the intersection of the creative, the client and me. It’s my job to bridge everyone’s goals into one successful outcome of which everybody can be proud. I shoot a lot of magazine assignments as well and they allow for a bit more freedom. The photo editor usually has ideas in mind, and they encourage me to interpret their ideas in a way that works best with my style.

What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
My first job out of college was in the art production department at McCann here in New York. I learned more in 10 months than in all three years of college. The experience allowed me to learn the business from the inside, instead of the usual perspective of a photo assistant. I learned that art buyers are drawn to work even if it isn’t what they are producing on a daily basis. Art buyers and photo editors receive hundreds of promos each week, and they basically look at them only long enough to throw them in the trash or delete them from their inbox. I learned quickly that it’s important to have a consistent style and to show work that’s hard to forget.

What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
I’ve realized my best work comes from the heart. The beauty of doing personal projects is that I can market myself with the type of work I want to be assigned.

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Reed Young is an American photographer born in 1982. He grew up in Minneapolis and now calls New York City home. He shoots assignment work for magazines including Time, The Guardian Weekend, Fortune, Fast Company , Popular Mechanics and Runner’s World. Young’s work has taken him all over the world in search of stories that focus on the human perspective.

www.reedyoung.com +1 917.821.4449 me@reedyoung.com

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s, after founding the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies. She has a new Twitter fed with helpful marketing information.  Follow her@SuzanneSease.

Categories: Business

Great Advice and Hard Truths

ASMP's Strictly Business - Thu, 07/17/2014 - 12:01am

[by Michael Clark]

Starting out in this industry is a daunting task. I struggled quite a bit for a few years before I decided to go full-time and when I did, it felt like I was jumping off a huge cliff to see if I could fly.

Early on in my career, Marc Romanelli, a mentor and fellow photographer, told me, “Keep your overhead as low as possible.”  This gem never stops being good advice. There have certainly been times when I let my overhead get out of control and I paid for it literally. Of all the advice I can give, this is perhaps the most critical for staying in business.

If you come out of photo school with $40,000 to $80,000 in debt, any career in the photo industry is basically over before it even starts. If you’re paying upwards of $20,000 per year for photography school, my advice is to drop out immediately. You can take an incredible array of photo workshops for less.  If you really want to spend money on a degree, get a marketing degree.  That will probably serve you better if your skills are already up to snuff.

It takes serious passion, motivation, thick skin, and hard work to make a career in this industry. The key phrase in that last sentence is hard work. It doesn’t matter how much talent you have or how good your people skills are, if you don’t work your buns off, you aren’t going to make it in this field. If you don’t want a career as a photographer with every fiber of your being, then the bad news is you probably won’t ever make it. I know that won’t be a popular statement, but maybe some other pro photographers can back me up on this in the comments.

Understand, it takes time. Very few photographers have instant success. It usually takes 3 to 5 years to go full time, then 10 years to gain 90% of your skills and start making decent money and 15 years to really make it big. For some it takes longer and for others it is much quicker. I mention this long view of the process of becoming a pro photographer because it is important to understand that you can’t give up in the first few years when it is desperately tough. When it does get tough, I refer you to the previous paragraph.

Another thing to note, when I started out, I thought that in ten years time I would have it made in the shade. Well, I am here to tell you it never really gets easier. Sure, you will make more money down the road, but it is still tough to get assignments and you have to constantly keep updating your work and your marketing while watching your cash flow.

Lastly, you have to be brutal with your own work. If your images or motion content isn’t unique or blowing the socks off the editors you send it to then you are going to have a tough time making a living in this profession. And your work has to be continually amazing if you want to have any longevity in terms of a career.

If this advice resonates with you, I wrote a book that delves deep into the life of a pro photographer, Exposed: Inside the Life and Images of a Pro Photographer, that has garnered a lot of praise for being an honest and helpful book.

So yes, there are lots of issues you will have to overcome, but as always, there is room for those who can create top-notch work and are willing to work extremely hard.

Michael Clark is an internationally published adventure photographer and author. If you are dying for more info check out his Newsletter, which is a quarterly magazine that goes out to over 6,000 photographers and clients. See more of Michael’s work at www.michaelclarkphoto.com.

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

Good Data and A Good Attitude: Two keys to launching a stable career

ASMP's Strictly Business - Wed, 07/16/2014 - 12:01am

[by Carolyn Potts]

While no one could argue that you need talent, shooting skills, and post-production ability to have a successful photo career, it’s also critical to know some secrets that successful photographers know. People who are successful in any business know how to use both “left brain” business data and also employ some “right brain” tools to ensure their career success.

1. Know your cost of doing business (CODB).
You have to know what it costs to keep your doors open. You have to know that there are many things that go into your CODB. When starting out, many forget to pay themselves– or to include insurance in the cost of doing business. Here’s a good tool to calculate all those line items.

An emerging photographer you will likely be offered some jobs that pay a “credit line” in lieu of money. While I certainly do not recommend that as a business practice, sometimes you do want to accept one of those offers. Caveat: that can build your business when you know exactly who will see your images and if that’s who you want to reach. It might be good PR but the PR you receive from the shoot exposure has to be a fair value exchange. That’s where knowing your real CODB comes in.

It’s been said that “Failure to plan, is planning to fail.”  If you do shoot anything pro bono (or at a lower rate), the decision to take–or decline the gig– becomes easy when you already know in advance who your target market is and your CODB.

2. The other key to success is to know how to keep your creative juices high and your stress levels low.
The most successful shooters know this. They know how to manage their minds. A calm and peaceful mind allows them to hear their inner muse that inspires them to shoot new portfolio pieces– which will attract clients. They keep their stress levels at bay so that they can remain non-reactive when a client makes an unreasonable demand at the last minute. They don’t freak out and blow a business relationship.

There are tools for that (besides drugs!). As I’ve mentioned in some of my other blogs posts, I’m now a fan of meditation; I’ve gotten results and so have my clients. More and more major research institutions are reporting each year on the benefits gained from regular meditation–both in overall health and in business relationships. It’s now become  practically mainstream. There are many easy ways to begin a practice. I started with Deepak Chopra’s free online program.

Photography marketing consultant and workshop leader, Carolyn Potts, helped launch a lot of photo careers in her 25+ year career as a photographers’ rep. Since becoming a photo consultant in 2003, she’s been working with photographers worldwide creating marketing plans and improving their presentations to get more work. Find her at www.cpotts.com on Google+Facebook ,and Twitter @PhotoMktngCoach

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

The Daily Edit – July Newstand: Joe Pugliese

A Photo Editor's Blog - Tue, 07/15/2014 - 11:45am

Pugliese_Holmes01 Pugliese_Jackson_01 Pugliese_JLO_COVER Pugliese_Strait_01_ArmstrongOpener_01_3D

Fortune

Creative Director: Brandon Kavulla
Photography Director: Mia J. Diehl

ESPN

VP/Creative Director, Digital and Print Media: John Korpics
Senior Director of Photography: Karen Frank

BillBoard

Creative Director: Shanti Marlar
Photography+Video Director: Jennifer Laski
Deputy Photo Director: Jennifer Sargent

Texas Monthly

Creative Director: TJ Tucker
Photography Editor: Leslie Baldwin

Esquire

Design Director: David Curcurito
Photo Director: Michael Norseng
Art Director: Stravinski Pierre
Photo Editor: Stacy Pittman
Photographer: Joe Pugliese

You’re ruling the July newsstand. The covers seem to highlight your strength, what would you say that is?
It’s really hard to say what my strength is specifically because I’m too close to it to know what other people see in the work. When I hear feedback from editors, they reference things like quiet moments, or use the word iconic, which can seem generic but something I think about on every shoot. Not really in a heroic way but as a way to frame what we do in the context of the life of a photo. For example, I often think about the entire career or life story of a person, and at the end of their lives, what picture would define them? What one photo sums up someone who has done great things, and what are the characteristics of a photo like that? Usually they are not very complicated images, not overly conceptual, and allow the viewer to look straight into the subject’s personality without reference or too much explanation of who that person is.

Your work is very straight forward showing the person rather then the star, is this a conscious effort in your development as a portrait photographer? What niche if any are you trying to fill or what are style of brand are you trying to develop?
I think a photographer’s style can often mimic their personality and background, but it can take years to listen to that voice and actually develop it. I came up in the business through a very workaday ethic and perhaps took on too wide a variety of assignments early on. But because of that, my current approach is more confident since I’m not as obsessed with the technicality involved in making a shoot come together. I have my toolbox to dip into and change up when necessary, but for the most part I want the subjects to be the most notable thing in a picture, not the technique.

For the both the Billboard and the ESPN cover, were you surprised the final edit, they both capture that split second moment.
Both of those titles are very good at taking risks and letting the images speak for themselves so it wasn’t a total surprise but I was definitely thrilled to see those frames make the cut. These days, I think magazines are more daring with design and art direction because readers consume so much more imagery that it takes more to grab their attention than it may have 10 or even 5 years ago. I work with fantastic directors of photography, design directors and photo editors at both titles and their cover choices make them a dream to shoot for.

How do you approach your portrait sessions, how much research do is done and what tools to you use to get the subjects to settle in?
I do a little bit of image research on each subject but almost nothing else. I have gotten to a comfortable place with my approach and I don’t feel it necessary to know everything about a subject. For the most part, unless the client has specific direction, I prefer to react to whomever I’m photographing in a natural way, the same way they have to get to know me. Basically we’re two strangers who need to trust each other and gain some level of comfort almost immediately, and memorizing someone’s dossier is just going to get in the way of normal human interaction. I like to gauge a person’s mood and comfort level, and go from there. If they are really uncomfortable or nervous, that’s when it’s every photographer’s job to take the reigns and guide them through the process. I give very detailed direction in those cases and it takes the pressure off the person to perform for the camera, which almost no one likes to do. Portrait photographers are good conversationalists, and that trait has served me very well. I’ve referred to this job as a never-ending dinner party with new and fascinating guests, and I frame each interaction with a subject on those terms. Casual, comfortable, with everyone on equal footing.

For the Lance Armstrong session, how long did it take for you to connect with him. I’d imagine he’s guarded.
I’m a lifelong cyclist and I knew a lot about Lance going into this shoot. I wasn’t worried about him being guarded because he’s clearly someone who understands his relationship with the media, and is very savvy about the point of each profile he agrees to. I was more worried about the session being too one-sided and not having a chance to present the Lance of today, instead of the legendary Tour winner Lance Armstrong of previous years. Sometimes subjects have such a strong brand that they only give you something that fits within those parameters. On the contrary, Lance was extremely open and gracious and totally present. We were comfortable with each other immediately and I didn’t have to push to get honest moments from him.

In a few words what were you trying to tell with that particular portrait.
The assignment from Esquire was to portray how much Lance has been through, just by showing Lance as he is now, in 2014. It’s been 15 years since his first Tour win, and he’s bound to show some wear and tear. The sport alone in the best scenario can age a man, add to that his recent troubles, and it was all we could do to just make honest portraits of a very recognizable figure going through a tough time. I gave him certain direction in terms of posing and sitting, but didn’t ask for much in terms of expression. I never really like to ask subjects to smile. If they’re in a good mood they’ll smile, if they have a lot on their mind they might not. It’s really nice to see what people offer you before you start telling them to act and look a certain way.

Let’s go down the list. What did you hope to communicate with each session?

Fortune/Elizabeth Holmes
Fortune is such a venerable title and I have been a contributor for a long time so I was really excited to be part of this cover. Elizabeth Holmes is a 30 year-old tech entrepreneur and it was nice to see a young woman featured on the cover of Fortune. Mia Diehl is the Director of Photography and she and the photo team are very good at conveying what they want to get from the shoot, while at the same time letting the photographer interpret the subject in a natural way. They chose a strong frame for the cover and I was happy with the clean design of the type as well.

ESPN/DeSean Jackson
The story of DeSean Jackson was one of redemption, which is such a loaded word for a photographer to try to convey. I knew it couldn’t be too conceptual, and I trusted that if they hired me to do it, I was going to have to rely on making an image that just felt like redemption. I think we all knew what the story was about that day on set, and we were each on the same page so to speak about how to get it. As we tried more and more setups, he just got completely loose and totally offered these looks to me that showed me what he was going through. My job was to react to what felt and looked right, and work with him throughout those moments. It’s almost like editing on the fly, when something is good, you keep working it, and when it’s not, you just move on. We kept his energy up by moving fast and accomplishing a lot of looks in a short amount of time. I felt the trust of the DOP Karen Frank and photo editor Stephanie Weed to let me do what I do best, and that is such a great feeling.
Billboard/ J.Lo:
This was a great assignment for me because while the direction of the shoot was definitely to capture the sexiness of a very famous star who has been a household name for a long time, the challenge for me was to find some real moments within those parameters. I always love the “in-between” moments, the frames that are shot after or before the expected pose, even by a split second. Luckily for me, Jen Laski at Billboard is phenomenally talented at recognizing those moments and we worked on the edit together right after the shoot, something I rarely get to do with clients. We have the same taste in those honest moments and I knew I was in good hands with her in getting those frames in print.

Texas Monthly/George Strait
Another situation where the trust of the time really allowed for something special to occur. Design Director TJ Tucker traveled with me to Tulsa to shoot the reclusive country star for a cover commemorating his farewell tour. Strait is from Texas and is an absolute legend in country music. We were told we would have 5 minutes for the cover shoot, and somehow we stretched that to 9 minutes. We moved him through three lighting setups and I chatted with him the whole time. It was a crunch but it was also a very confident and well planned approach. TJ knew exactly what he was looking for, and we were alb to nail it because of that.

Are these all the first cover assignments for the respective titles?
I’ve previously shot one or more covers for each of these titles.

What promos did you sent in order to get these assignments?
I don’t send promos outside of some email outreach that my agents at Bernstein & Andriulli handle. I view my editorial tearsheets as my promos, people who hire photographers are magazine readers and always tend to see what’s out there in other titles. I tend to get more work when I have good work on the newsstands.
Also, I just came off a nice round of meetings in NYC and I think that face time really helps me, being based in L.A. I have long standing relationships with a lot of my clients and that familiarity and trust is a crucial element in getting cover shoots.

 

ARMSTRONG_BTS ARMSTRONG_05 ARMSTRONG_04 ARMSTRONG_03 ARMSTRONG_02 ARMSTRONG_01

I know you are an avid cyclist so going into the shoot for Esquire did you show up as a cyclist and a photographer, or just one of those two personalities? Do you think it’s possible to split yourself?
In this case, I definitely had more to talk about with Lance than my usual subjects, but even then, I prefer to get subjects talking by asking broad questions that elicit longer responses. I like the emphasis to be on them, and it’s not really that necessary to share what I know about their lives. I did immediately notice that he had hairy legs, and ribbed him a little about that, haha.

Were you able to show up that day as a photographer only.
Yes, despite my knowledge of the sport and somewhat conflicted admiration of Lance, as soon as I meet anyone for a portrait session, I’m totally a photographer. It’s also part of the process that in my head we are both accomplished individuals, I draw on the fact that I’ve done this all before to calm my nerves and get on with the task at hand.

Has there been any moments of late where you’ve been secretly star stuck?
I wouldn’t say that I ever really get starstruck, but there is a phenomenon sometimes where the amount of respect I have for a subject gets in the way of how I interact with them. I’ve photographed some legendary people in Hollywood, but it’s the subjects that have been well known for decades that I find myself directing less, and just trying to document as they are. People like Robert Evans or Tom Petty or Kirk Douglas. Their legacy is so overwhelming that I don’t want to adjust anything at all, I just want to hold the camera up to them, in a sense.

Why did you choose B&A to represent you, was it a difficult choice?
Bernstein & Andriulli has always been a very influential agency for me, I always looked at their roster and what kinds of projects they were working on to see what kind of potential the industry holds. Carol Alda reached out and along with Ehrin Feeley, initiated a great back and forth conversation that lasted the better part of a year before I signed with them. I was not represented by anyone at the time and I had a very specific workflow and relationship with my clients that I wanted to maintain. Their patience and understanding of what’s important to me in my career were the deciding factors. I love the support and trust I get from them and Howard has given me great insight and advice from the beginning.

Whose on your blog roll/instagram feed?
On IG I’m loving the feeds of design directors, photo directors and editors. It’s so great to see the visual language of the people who are so influential in creating the visual languages of the magazines we shoot for. Ivan Shaw at Vogue has a great feed of NYC street scenes, and Kathy Ryan and Stacey Baker at the NYT mag have created very special feeds that really took off. Patrick Witty, now at Wired, had a phenomenal series on subway riders, and I love the pictorial beauty in the feeds of Nancy Jo Iacoi, Jessie Wender and Yolanda Edwards as well. All these amazing editors are also amazing photographers!

How do you use social media to market yourself?
I try to post things to my personal Facebook feed to share with editors I’m already friends with. I don’t like being too invasive with promotion but it seems to be received well. On instragram, I occasionally post some tearsheets I’m excited about but for the most part I use that feed to share my after-hours life, like cycling and travel.

I know you had assisted Art Streiber, who continues to be a great photo ambassador to anyone on his team, what did Art teach you?
Art is a great friend and we have very similar backgrounds. We both started as photojournalists, I was a photographer for the LA Times after college, and met him through friends in the newspaper business. I had no assisting experience and he totally took me under his wing and showed me how the entire industry operates. I assisted him at a time when the magazine business was extremely robust and shoots were high-budget and high-pressure. He taught me so many great lessons that it would be impossible to list them all, but the takeaway to this day is that to be a portrait photographer you have to truly be interested in people. Art is the most outgoing person I know and it shows in his work. I had to pay attention to my own curiosity towards people for my work to become my own, and I really benefitted from having Art as a mentor and friend.

Categories: Business

Ready to Launch: Build Your Networks

ASMP's Strictly Business - Tue, 07/15/2014 - 12:03am

[by Tom Kennedy]

Launching a career can seem like an overwhelming task. There are so many things that need immediate attention, ranging from developing a business plan and setting up appropriate paperwork and relationships to support the business to finding immediate assignments that can begin to produce income.

In the present world of always-on digital contact, there is still a huge role for face-to–face connection. Its importance is easily overlooked while contending with a list of endless daily “to-dos” and relying primarily on digital communication to speed activity.

To succeed, build two types of personal relationship networks, described by sociologists as “weak-tie” and “strong-tie” networks.  The weak-tie networks are people outside your profession who can point you to business opportunities or provide fresh insights into how the world works, and the strong-tie networks are your working peers.

For a photographer, weak-tie relationships could describe connections to other types of business people. Or it could mean establishing relationships with lawyers, accountants, marketing strategists, or web designers who can help with developing specific pieces of the business plan and/or removing certain administrative burdens that are crucial for running a successful small business.

Strong-tie networks are built of fellow professionals who are in the same area, both geographically and in terms of work. As a photographer interested in shooting sports for example, my strong-tie network would be fellow sports photographers, photo editors working for sports teams or sports publications etc. Typically, the strong-tie network will involve fellow photographers just getting started, as well as veterans who act as mentors offering strategic career advice as well as frank, constructive criticism about one’s work being done in the moment. Quite often, the mentors become the go-to people who can give you the most honest “read” about your progress and what might be required to get to the next level.

Pay attention to developing both kinds of networks from the start.   Both are necessary for career success. Over time, I found often that information from people in my weak-tie networks could lead me to solutions to immediate problems or to great opportunities I would miss if I only talked with fellow editors and photographers.   For example, once I was trying to solve a problem of tracking content at every stage of the editing process. Thanks to college summers spent working for a shipping company, I realized that their package tracking methods might hold valuable clues about how to do it efficiently.   This analogy was useful in finding a creative solution, but it only happened because my weak-tie connections could offer interesting insights.

Because of the pressure to find assignments, many people will focus their attention energy solely on conversations with strong-tie network members.   It is better to find a balance between the two as way of finding opportunities and staying fresh. Devote time weekly to personal conversations with people in both types of networks and work diligently to expand them both.

Tom Kennedy is an independent consultant coaching and mentoring individual photographers, while also working with various organizations to train individuals and teams on multimedia story creation, production, publication and distribution strategies for digital platforms, and enhancing creativity. He also regularly teaches at Universities and multimedia conferences. He has created, directed, and edited visual journalism projects that have earned Pulitzer Prizes, as well as EMMY, Peabody, and Edward R. Murrow awards.  He can be reached at kennedymedia@gmail.com.

 

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

Launching Your Career

ASMP's Strictly Business - Tue, 07/15/2014 - 12:01am

Graduation has come and gone, you’ve had a few weeks to play, and now the real work begins – it’s time to launch your photography career.  This week, our contributors offer tips, insights and advice that will help you get your photography career started on the right path. ~ Judy Herrmann, editor

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

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