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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.firstname.lastname@example.org
Anonymous Art Buyer: I nominate Jonathan Kozowyk. Not only is he very talented, he is very easy to work with.
How many years have you been in business?
I’ve been working in the industry for a little over 12 years. I started out assisting, and have been shooting on my own for about 3 years now.
Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I went to Massachusetts College of Art for Graphic Design, but knew I wanted to make photographs. After I graduated I pursued my passion for photography and I was really lucky to apprentice some talented folks.
Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
I learned a ton from assisting Tibor Nemeth, Jason Grow, and Michael Prince.
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?
Really I find inspiration in everything around me. Sometimes it is from the creative people I work with, people I am photographing, or places I travel to. I try to absorb it all and then reinterpret it to show how I see the world. Within my work there is an element of timelessness, which I also feel is important. I always try to infuse that into whatever I am doing. I want my work to feel genuine.
Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
Of course, that can happen, but I believe there is always a nice middle ground that can be reached, I am not a diva, I know that I got hired for a reason. When I am shooting I have a good understanding of what the agency and client need to walk away with at the end of the shoot. But I always try to get a something that I personally love out of each job.
What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
Lately I have been making a ton of little small run books and send them to creatives I want to collaborate with. Also visiting agencies and magazines to share my latest projects.
What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
I guess that approach can work. But I have been really trying to push myself to show work that I love as well. I try to pepper in some of what they may need to see, but I think it’s important for people to know that you bring something to the table.
Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
Yes. I try to make pictures everyday, even if I am stuck in front of the computer doing post work, bidding on projects, or even while on phone calls. Sometimes they are just pictures of my dog or of people around the neighborhood.
How often are you shooting new work?
As much as possible. I have a few personal projects always going on. It ‘s a great way to stay loose and get motivated. I used to get caught up in thinking that I needed to “finish” a project, but lately I’ve been allowing myself the freedom to start a project and just let it take it’s course.
Jonathan Kozowyk is a commercial advertising and editorial photographer. He was formally trained at Massachusetts College of Art and Design where he received his BFA in Graphic Design. After graduation he set out to pursue his passion of photography.
Today Jonathan is based in New York City and is lucky to travel often for commissions all over the world. Jonathan enjoys collaborating with creatives to capture genuine moments big and small.
In his down time he likes to surf, ride his skateboard, look at maps, and spend time with his beautiful girlfriend and his furry dog.
Contact: +1 347 901 2427 email@example.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.
[by Gail Mooney]
The best way to build a professional network is to approach it organically. Most of us have a variety of networks in our life, made up of family, friends, neighbors, co-workers or people we are connected with by common interest. But for some reason, many of us draw a line between our business and personal relationships instead of bridging those connections, for mutual benefit.
Over my lifetime, I’ve made connections with an eclectic array of people-not just with people who are inside my industry, but with people I’ve shared a variety of experiences. Some examples of my own networks:
Social Networks: A few years ago, I built an audience online, by blogging about my journey around the world, with my daughter Erin, creating a feature length documentary film. I didn’t know at the time, that this following would later help us fund the postproduction of our film through Kickstarter.
I also belong to several LinkedIn Discussion Groups where people share information. For example: I do work in the corporate “social responsibility” sector and I‘ve made several connections through an online discussion group that have led to non-virtual relationships.
Trade Associations and other Groups – I am a member of the ASMP and the SATW (Society of American Travel Writers) an association of photographers and writers,specifically related to the travel industry. The relationships I have formed through these two groups have been invaluable to my business. As I find myself working on more and more collaborative jobs, I draw upon my colleagues when I need to form a team for an assignment.
Events/Conferences – I attend a lot of conferences. While I do enjoy the ease of online learning, in person conferences offer the extra added value of interaction and networking. In particular, I try not to miss PPE (Photo Plus Expo) held in NYC in late fall and the NAB Show (National Association of Broadcasters), held in Las Vegas in April. NAB includes several mini-conferences such as Post Production World and the annual SuperMeet where producers, shooters and editors come together.
Volunteering –When I want to learn more about a particular craft or skill set, or meet people who are involved in a particular area of my industry, I will volunteer at conferences that will connect me with the right people. For example, by volunteering at events organized by the IFP (Independent Filmmaker Project), I’ve learned a lot, and it’s been a great way to meet other filmmakers.
I also give back – I’m on the photographer advisory boards of YPA (Young Photographer Alliance) as well as my alma mater Brooks Institute. I’m also on the board of my local public access TV station. This keeps me in touch with “emerging photographers” as well as what’s happening in my own community.
Ultimately, I try to network with a variety of people from different backgrounds and personality types. I hang with the idealists that I can dream with, and the realists that keep me in check. And the visionaries that are willing to help me come up with a plan to fulfill my dreams – instead of trying to talk me out of them. The bottom line is that life is about relationships and connections. It’s why I became a photographer… I wanted access to a life that would be enriched by an amazing array of people who were a part of it.
Gail Mooney is Chair of the National Board of ASMP. She is a partner of Kelly/Mooney Productions.
Professional photographers were repelled by the weird, ungainly, often out-of-focus shots that amateurs produced. “Photography as a fad is well nigh on its last legs,” prayed the art photographer Alfred Stieglitz. Other pundits bemoaned “Kodak fiends,” camera obsessives who carried their device everywhere and were apparently so constantly taking pictures that they would space out and miss their trains.
PASSION, PURPOSE and PERSEVERANCE
“Passion and Purpose” – The credo put forth by Robert Frank as the necessary ingredients to creating successful and meaningful photography. I would add to that another, “Perseverance”. In any endeavor it would be impossible to attain true success without Passion and Purpose. Many photographers exhibit either passion, purpose or perseverance but the ones that succeed exhibit all three.
To create a successful photography book you must exhibit these three traits. Your work must have a purpose, it must communicate and strike a chord with the audience. This will be impossible if you are not passionate about your pictures and it will not get done if you can not persevere through some failure. Good work requires one to take risks and everyone who takes risks occasionally fails, however those failures can and will make you stronger if you allow them to.
I strongly recommend you research the work which has preceded you. Look at the masters’ books and then look some more. Determine what it is about these books that makes them successful. You’ll see lots of passion on those pages, the work will have a purpose and clearly exhibit such. It will strike a chord with the viewer and hopefully initiate a creative or intellectual a response from them. If you wish to have some of that limited shelf space allotted picture books then your work must elicit a strong response.
Assuming you have a strong body of work it needs to be edited into a stronger body of work to meet this publishing criteria. Editing is a very important component to creating a cohesive and strong book. It is also a very difficult process. We all know how hard it is to toss a picture we love because it just doesn’t fit. We all become infatuated with the newness of recent pictures or those that proved technically difficult. Unfortunately no one cares how hard it was technically for you to complete, or how fresh the picture is to you. It is the content that matters and good editing will assure that your content is as strong as it can be. Many of us tend to work in a vacuum, focused on the task at hand while completing a series of pictures. Once photography is completed it is very helpful to get a second or even third opinion on the book edit. You may find you need to create some new pictures to round out the book. I appreciate working with a good picture editor and find that their contribution manifests itself in the success of the book. If you are serious about your project I encourage you to solicit the help of an experienced picture editor working in your genre.
Keeping the work as simple and honest as possible works best. This does not mean you need to make simple pictures but rather should strive to eliminate any element that does not contribute to the purpose of the picture and subsequently also the book. Adhere to the credo that you are only as good as your weakest link. Show less but stronger pictures that engage the audience, don’t over tell the story. Leave a little open to interpretation for the audience to connect with.
Work with the best designer you can and be sure they are as passionate about the book as you are. It’s their work on those pages that will show yours in the best light possible. I like simple design. I adhere to the Bauhaus principle of “less is more”. I believe good design is unobtrusive and efficient but also compelling. Remember you are making a picture book and it is about the pictures. No amount of flashy design can mask poor picture content.
The decision to self publish or work with a publisher can only be made by you. It’s your book and your career. The same goes for ebook vs ink-book. The ebook has made it easy for anyone to put together a “book”. I use ebook format as a e-maquette editing tool. It helps to see content in order and adjust accordingly. While I am not affiliated with any companies I find the new version of Lightroom® 5. to be very accommodating in this regard. If you are not familiar with the Lightroom® book options you may wish to investigate it.
Publishing is a business. Businesses need to turn a profit and while some publishers are quite passionate about their titles and authors they never loose sight of the bottom line. This is responsible business practice and necessary for success. A first time author is a big risk. Picture books present even more risk as they are very expensive to produce. Publishing is also a tough business and getting tougher therefore the risk allowance is diminishing. Many publishers will ask a first time author to guarantee a return on investment. Requesting the author either purchase a quantity of books or contribute financially to the volumes production costs. It’s not unheard of to request a first time author pay all costs associated with producing the book.This is in addition to the cost of producing the original photography for the book. Adding up all these associated expenses makes it apparent that publishing a book can become quite an expensive endeavor. This will test your passion.
Be prepared for non appropriate deals to come your way from publishers and have the strength to say no to them. You have no negotiating power if you are not prepared to walk away from a deal. I encourage the first time author to be patient and wait for the right deal, to persevere. It took 7 years to get the right deal for my first book. It was frustrating at times but I am very pleased I waited for the right publisher to work with. Beware the vanity press that exists solely to profit from production of your book. Once they have delivered your book you will find yourself all on your own. I consider producing a book a partnership with the publisher, a joint effort with mutual benefit.
The advantages of working with a publisher are many and beyond the scope of this essay to allow for me to detail each. The most important benefit you gain by working with a publisher is credibility. Self publishing and vanity presses fall short on the credibility front. However vanity books can be viewed as promotional pieces and work within that venue for the assignment photographer, but only if done very well. However as an author credibility is very important and quite frankly the best return you will find from publishing a book is the credibility it affords you, the author. What you will get with a good book is a piece that, if used properly, will open doors for career growth.
Unfortunately as previously outlined there is no substantial author income to be had from your book. This is true whether you self publish or work with a publisher. If you are making a book with the intent of generating an income you will be disappointed. If income is your only goal invest the money and time elsewhere. You make a book because you have to, you are passionate about doing so. In my workshops and seminars I break down the associated costs of book making, the business of publishing and the ways you can use your book to help generate a livelihood. Remember the credibility associated with authoring a good book tops the list for opening doors to further opportunity.
Some of the advantages to working with a publisher are less or no financial risk, distribution and warehousing services ( you don’t want a garage full of 5000 books and be running to the Post office for every order ), guidance in editing, quality book design, production expertise and solid marketing. I cant stress this enough. Publishers want your book to succeed. Remember it’s all about the bottom line for them and sales of your books make a better bottom line. In addition more sales of your book means more credibility for you.
Self publishing has some merits as well. If you should be fortunate enough to create a best selling book your profits will be substantially better. You may actually recoup all the original photography and book production expenses and break even. That is a big “IF” however, and quite hard to almost impossible to do with out a publishers expertise behind it. Another advantage, if you view it as such, is that you will have complete control over the edit, design, production specs, warehousing, distribution, marketing and PR. However you will also have the expenses and responsibilities associated with the above. I am biased to working with a publisher. I am a photographer. I focus upon making pictures and let others more experienced than I in book production deal with the publishing aspects of making books.
WORKING WITH A PUBLISHER
If you decide to approach publishers here are several key items you need to know to assure your book receives the best possible opportunity to get published. I have outlined these below.
Define your goal with the book.
What is it you want from the book? Write down your goals think about them and be specific.
Select a topic that has a purpose.
Research is very helpful here. Look at where there are gaps in the medium. Does there need to be more coverage of a certain genre.
Select a topic you are passionate about.
People can feel if you are passionate about your pictures. Passion is conveyed by your demeanor but even more so from your pictures. If you are not passionate about what you are working on stop working and find something you are passionate about to do.
Be sure the book engages the audience.
Tell the story in your voice. Lead don’t follow, but never loose sight of who your audience is or you will loose them.
Estimate production costs of photography.
Be sure you can complete the book before you start. Find funding if needed through grants or corporate sponsorship.
Remember you are only as good as your weakest link. A great picture diminishes when in the company of mediocrity.
You never get it perfect the first time.
Go ahead and edit a third time.
And rarely on the second.
Create a maquette or book dummy (these are the same thing but “maquette” sounds smarter).
“Maquette” is French defined as a sculptor’s rough test sculpture done before hitting the marble or casting the bronze. The maquette is very important in bookmaking. It is a rough of the book made prior to publishing. It’s also a very tricky item to get right as you want it to be rough but also enticing. Too finished and the publisher may feel pigeonholed and limited in input. Too loose and they may not be enticed to investigate further. I recommend you share a few pages from the book as a maquette, a “this is what I was thinking” sample and follow up with a color corrected and detailed PDF of just pictures. You may find other avenues better suited to specific publishers. Read the publisher’s submission criteria and adhere to it.
Research publishers that are appropriate for your work.
Like photographers publishers specialize. Fashion, documentary, landscape, reportage, narrative are all genres that some publishers limit themselves to. Be sure the publishers you contact are appropriate for your book. They like knowing you do your research as well.
Respectfully approach publishers with the maquette.
Publishers are dedicated hard working people trying to survive in a dwindling and ever more competitive marketplace. It’s a tough job, be nice to them.
Negotiate a favorable contract for all.
Be sure you are happy with the deal you make. You will live with it. I assure you the publisher will be comfortable with any deal they make. You want a pleasant and honest partnership surrounding your book.
Be realistic in negotiations and prepared to walk away.
What are you getting from the publisher in exchange for all your hard work, original photography financial investment and passion? Be sure they have a finely tuned operation capable of supporting you and your book. Design, production quality, warehousing, distribution, marketing, PR, and payment are the areas you should be concerned with. Ask other authors about the publisher. Bring up these areas when negotiating with the publisher. If you are a first time author it’s a tougher go negotiating.
I doubt the first publisher who sees your book maquette will publish it. Probably not the second, third, fourth, fifth….. You can not let rejection be a reflection upon the merit of your book or more importantly you. There are many publishers and most won’t be right for your book. When your book is rejected politely ask what it that the publisher is looking for. If you see a common denominator from publishers possibly adjust your book to eliminate the problem.
I hope this brief and opinionated synopsis proves beneficial to those of you wishing to publish a picture book. While extremely difficult, authoring a picture book is a rewarding, satisfying undertaking. Your book can serve as the instrument to inform, elicit response, effect positive social change and open doors for you to continue to do even more with your pictures. Just remember these three words and you’ll be off to a good start: Passion, Purpose and Perseverance.
Carl Corey is the author of three books; “Rancher” – Bunker Hill 2007, “Tavern League” – WHS Press 2011 and “For Love and Money” – WHS Press 2014. He is the recipient of over 100 awards from the photographic and publishing communities including the Crystal Book Award for Best Photography Book 2012, National Best Sellers Award 2012, INDIE Publishers Award of Excellence 2014, Pub West Gold 2012 and Foreward Top Ten. He presents group seminars and teaches one on one workshops.
[by Lynn Kyle]
My grandfather was a farmer. On days when he was not in the field, he would drive into town to go to the local coffee shop.
Parking himself on the bar stool next to the other farmers, he’d talk over current agricultural issues and the business of farming. From the newest fertilizer to changes in insurance rates, this was where he listened and shared experiences, frustrations and successes. These conversations with fellow farmers were invaluable to his business.
So how do we get back to basics, back to the art of conversation?
These days we have amazing resources available to us. Social networking, organizations, seminars and events all need to be a part of your business model to better your business and to continue to keep up with our ever-changing industry.
Social networking is a great tool to start the conversation. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter — these are all good ways to connect and show people your personal side. Tailor social networking to your style and personality, and only participate in the networks you are interested in (and that you will keep updated). My rule of thumb is, if you are not excited about what you are posting, then no one else will be either. Explore what works for you, and conversation will follow.
LinkedIn Group discussions are another great way to connect with industry colleagues. You’ll not only find yourself talking to peers, but also to potential clients. Check out the group directory search and jump in!
Social media is great, but how do we get to the real conversations? The ones you walk away from saying: “wow that was super helpful.”
The answer is industry events, seminars, and organizations. Join your local ASMP chapter and attend one of their industry meet and greets. Check out your local Apple store for seminars on retouching and presentations from photographers and production people. Rental houses even sometimes have demonstrations on the latest and greatest camera gear. Sit in on a demo and learn something while you’re networking!
Once connected with people in your industry as friends and colleagues, they become part of your support team. You can reach out and ask advice on more specific things such as recommendations for crew members in certain cities, thoughts on fees to charge for a unique project, where to locate special rigging equipment, or even where to obtain a family of llamas.
The further you dive into networking, the more you will get out of it. Being a part of the community will give you the extra edge and support you need. So grab a cup of coffee, sit down wherever you are, and have a great chat with a colleague today!
Lynn Kyle brings a unique combination of agency and production experience to her role of creative consultant at Agency Access. She’s intimately familiar with the business end of commercial photography and illustration and has, over the last two decades, worked with high-profile artists as an Art Buyer, Producer and Artist Rep at top firms including Leo Burnett Chicago.