MISSION STATEMENT - This site is dedicated to professional music photographers. Our mission is to advocate sound business practices, warn against predatory client practices, provide helpful and educational resources, and foster a sense of community. All discussions related to capturing, processing, cataloging and licensing music photographs are welcome.
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 Creative Director: I nominate Topher Cox. His book pretty much speaks for itself.
How many years have you been in business?
When did I start. Hmmm, hard to say. I would say it has been a good 7 years now. Before that I was a freelance photo assistant, which is a whole business in itself. Shooting for your self while helping others out. That got me ready to break out on my own. It taught me a thing or two… or three.
My folks told me I was helping at my dad’s studio before I could walk.
Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I took a couple of classes (thank you Mr. Simon, TR and Doc), but I guess you could say I am mostly self-taught. I grew up in the photography business. My father was a photographer and my mother was the art director at Cosmopolitan Magazine. So my nursery was my father’s studio, and then when I got a bit older I would go to my mom’s office and play with my toys on the floor as my mother and Helen Gurley Brown would be looking at slides on the light box above me. I would go hang out on shoots all the time as a kid. I would watch and learn. That was my school. Not only how to shoot, but how to work with people.
I went to school and studied Psychology at Syracuse University. During the summers I would work as a photo assistant, studio aide, and stylist assistant. It was a great way to see the business from all sides. After graduation I busted my ass as a photo assistant for a long time. I went all over the world carrying camera bags and such. That’s an education!
One time I had a photo student ask me a bunch of things about the strobes and ratios, f stops etc. Sure, I know all that, but I told him, “brother, when it is too dark I turn them up, and when it is too bright I turn them down”. I think education is really important, but owning what you know and putting it to use is what is really important.
I did a short stint working at MTV. That taught me a lot about making budgets, the corporate life, and being in a cubicle for 8 hours a day.
Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
As I said previously, I grew up in it. It was kind of the family business it is the business I know. I still had to make my way up the ladder. No one handed anything to me.
So I wouldn’t say it was any one person, it was all the photographers I knew as a kid. I loved what they did.
Funny thing is that when I told a bunch of them that I was going to be a photographer they all suggested I do otherwise. They told me the photo days of the 80′s and 90′s were long gone. It is true, but it is whole new era….an exciting one.
I love to keep it simple. I have always loved the work of Richard Avedon, Paolo Roversi, Bruce Weber, and Irving Penn.
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?
One thing I love is the opportunities of the digital era and how technology is constantly changing and improving things. I can shoot stills for a client and shoot video at the same time. That way their stills and video match in style and vision exactly. They love it, I love it. I get to see my photos come to life in video.
You have to look around you all the time, see what is out there, look online, look in magazines, see what you love and try to bring it to your vision. Make it your own. Growing up in NYC everything was constantly changing, I think you have to do that with yourself. Reinvent yourself all the time, but keep your true self in there.
One thing about photography is that it takes you to places that you would otherwise never go and meet people you would never meet. I find that to be so inspiring. Every model or subject has a story, every place has something new to offer. I find inspiration there.
Photography has taken me all over the world. It has shown me so many things and opened so many doors.
If I go somewhere on location for work I make sure to get up early and stay up late to wander around. I am lucky to be there, and I find inspiration from what is around me at all times.
Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
My job is to take what the client and creatives want, and translate that into my photography. I have to bring all that info and pull it down to a moment in time that may last 1/1000th of a second. That is my job. “Hold me back”, no, I want to give them what they want. I want to make them happy. Making them happy inspires me. If you feel they are holding you back I feel you have to rethink what you are doing. Sure, this is art, this is vision, this is a piece of you…..but this is also work and a job. And your (my) job is to give them what they want….and maybe show them something they didn’t know they wanted. You can always do it both ways, your way, and their way. Then they can look to see what they like best. I did that for a big client of mine. I would shoot the way they wanted and then I would shoot the way I wanted. In the end, they liked my vision more. Now when you look at all their photography it is in my style. That didn’t happen over night, but over time they changed and reinvented their image. If you really get frustrated, then do some work on the side for yourself….which you should be doing anyway.
I hear about photographers who are difficult to work with or get mad at everyone on set. What is that!? We are so lucky to do what we love for a living. We should get down and kiss the ground every day to be thankful. Hold me back, ha, I should be throwing rose petals at their feet as they walk into their office everyday for giving me the opportunity to live like I do. Right now I am sitting in my sun filled studio next to my sleeping dog while my kids are healthy and happy at school and my wife is at work….I have nothing to complain about. My work gave me this….and my clients gave me this.
What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
The internet is an amazing thing. You can show your work to folks all the time. You can show them things in bits and pieces. Over time they will remember you.
I hated carrying my portfolios around from place to place. I would pick them up and realize that no one had even opened them up. That sucks….BUT, you have to keep picking yourself up and keep going. Some will give up and some will make it.
AND….I have an agent:-) She is great at getting my work out there. It really helps to have someone give you a kick in the ass too when you are feeling down. She knows the ins and outs of how things work.
What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
OK, Here is where I am supposed to say “be true to yourself”, right?. Yes, be true to yourself. Make your style. Refine that style. Show that style.
BUT… remember there is A LOT of money riding on these shoots. There is so much time put into them before you even came into the project. Clients are quick to move on if they don’t like the work. There are a lot of other options out there. SO, they also have to see that you can do what THEY need.
I had a client tell me the other day that last year was their best year in sales ever and that it had a lot to do with my photos. Holy crap! How happy did that make me feel! That is also a lot of pressure. Better sales mean that they can keep all their workers and stay open. All those workers can keep their jobs and feed their families. Not only here where they make the product, but also all over the world where the parts are made or the metal is …wait…how do they make metal?
Anyway you get the idea. You have to show yourself in the work, but that work also has to work for them.
Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
Of course. I love to shoot. The money is the bonus. With digital there should not be anything holding you back from shooting everyday. There was a time when I had my fridge stocked with film. I was limited by choosing to eat or processing my film. Now, you can shoot, shoot, shoot.
It doesn’t have to be a big production. You can keep your camera next to your bed and shoot before your feet hit the floor if that is your thing. But it is fun to put something all together and see it come to life.
How often are you shooting new work?
All the time. And even that isn’t enough. Shoot to live, Live to shoot.
If It is not on a CF card yet, it is in my head. Sleeping can be difficult at times because you are thinking about what you want to shoot and how you are going to make that happen.
Topher Cox grew up in New York and now lives outside of Boston. No longer a huge rock star in Japan, he lives in a house with a white picket fence with his wife, two kids, and a dog. No minivan yet.
They all get back to NYC often for work, friends, and family.
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.
Regular site visitors will have seen a series of interviews on dpreview over the past couple of weeks, during and after the CP+ show in Yokohama Japan. It's always interesting to speak to the people in charge of the companies that make the products we love and this year, what was most telling was the consistency of the themes that came out of our conversations. Click through for a distillation of the major themes that emerged from our CP+ interviews.
Hidden in plain sight, the Fletcher Supply Company (aka the Feed & Seed) has sat on the main road of Fletcher, NC for over ninety-four years. Originally built in 1919, the Fletcher Supply Company served the surrounding area for many years until it was edged out of business by large corporate retailers. Spotting the vacant building, Pastor Phillip Trees approached owner Harry Thomas, Sr. with the idea of using the building to house his congregation and hosting bluegrass venues in 2007. Pastor Phillip, along with his wife, Amy, their family and the congregation, restored the building through their hard work and donations from the community.
It was in this latest incarnation that April Janow discovered the Feed & Seed, while working in Asheville, NC. In her daily commute to the office, she admired the architecture of the building, and on weekends, the crowds and music that were going on inside. A year later, April was able to actually go to a Saturday night show, and enjoyed seeing the fun that was being had by everyone. She met Pastor Trees that night, and the next day, asked if he was interested in participating in a documentary about the Feed & Seed. Two weeks later, filming began and both April and Dax Cuesta of (sic) Films, LLC, started filming.
Both April and Dax felt that the ambiance of the Feed & Seed was reminiscent of years gone by. Here is a community that would come together to listen to music, dance, see friends and enjoy a night out. The setting of the Feed & Seed is so special that it's almost as if time has stood still.
At The Feed & Seed covers some of the lively history of the Fletcher Supply Company, a typical Saturday night with bluegrass music and clogging, and the Feed & Seed church services on a Sunday morning.
Lonesome Will Mullins grew up near Clintwood, Virginia, in a house that was filled with family musicians and plenty of bluegrass, old time, and country music. He learned to play the banjo and guitar as a teenager, and before long he was playing in several bands while honing his trade by studying the work of bluegrass legends like Bill Monroe, Jimmy Martin, and Dr. Ralph Stanley. To say he learned well would be an understatement.
Today, Lonesome Will is one of the most accomplished singers and musicians around. Also influenced by Jerry Lee Lewis, he mixes traditional bluegrass music with a breathtakingly energetic stage show. Backed by the Virginia Playboys, the show will be jam-packed with hard driving bluegrass, old time clawhammer banjo, and gospel music. When Lonesome Will takes the stage, audiences are swept away by his range, talent, and showmanship.
The Virginia Playboys will be backing Lonesome Will. The Burrows brothers – Adam and Jake – and Dorse Sears are the Virginia Playboys. From the mountains of North Carolina, Jake and Adam Burrows have a history of bluegrass in their family. The McPherson Brothers Band, who played on the Grand Ole Opry and shows with the great Jim and Jesse McReynolds in the ‘60s are their uncles. Their love of bluegrass began there, and they’ve learned well. Jake and Adam can play pretty much any instrument they pick up. Dorse Sears grew up in West Virginia and developed a love of bluegrass music as a young man. Captivated by the music of Jimmy Martin and Ralph Stanley, he began his career playing fiddle. When he picked up the mandolin, however, he simply couldn’t put it down. His playing is heavily influenced by Bill Monroe and Ronnie McCoury.
Abingdon, VA -- The Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail presents a Youth Music Series concert on Thursday, March 13th, from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. at Heartwood: Southwest Virginia’s Artisan Gateway in Abingdon, Virginia. The concert will feature the Albert Hash Memorial Band Program from Grayson County Public Schools.
The Albert Hash Memorial Band Program, directed by Emily Spencer, is an in-school traditional music program at Grayson County High School and Grayson Highlands School in Southwest Virginia. This unique music program has its roots in the mountain music program that was started at Mt. Rogers Combined School in Whitetop, Virginia in 1982. Albert Hash was a well-known fiddler and fiddle maker, and he and his daughter, Audrey, along with his brother and sister-in-law, Thornton and Emily Spencer, were instructors. After his passing in 1983, the band was named in his honor.
Close to 60 students are involved in the string band program this year, and 220 students are served through music classes. Students learn to play guitar, fiddle, bluegrass and old time banjo, mandolin, bass and dulcimer, as well as learning about traditional singing and dance.
The Crooked Road Music Series features youth music performers and showcases venues of the Crooked Road region. These events, along with open jams on the 1st, 3rd, (and 5th) Thursday of every month, are hosted at Heartwood. A complete schedule for the music series is available on The Crooked Road website at www.thecrookedroad.org and at www.heartwoodvirginia.org. The music series is sponsored by The Crooked Road, Heartwood, Virginia Commission for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Heartwood: Southwest Virginia’s Artisan Gateway is located off I-81 at Exit 14 in Abingdon, Virginia and features food, music, and craft of Southwest Virginia. Admission to the concert is free and donations will be accepted for The Crooked Road Traditional Music Education Program (TMEP).
For more information on The Crooked Road Music Series call (276) 492-2409 or email: email@example.com
Asheville, NC -- Suwannee Springfest celebrates its 18th year at the magnificent Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, FL on March 20-23rd. Festivalgoers can enjoy four days of camping and live music, arts and crafts, and a selection of great foods. Suwannee Springfest consistently features some of the world’s finest performers in Roots Rock, Bluegrass & Newgrass, Acoustic Blues, Singer/Songwriter, Cajun/Zydeco, New & Traditional Folk and other forms of American Roots music. Tickets are on sale in advance and at the gate.
Suwannee Springfest is excited to welcome to the 2014 stages The Avett Brothers, Del McCoury Band, Punch Brothers, Sam Bush Band, Jason Isbell, Southern Soul Assembly (JJ Grey, Anders Osborne, Luther Dickinson and Marc Broussard), Travelin McCoury Jam, Steep Canyon Rangers, Donna The Buffalo, Jim Lauderdale, Greensky Bluegrass, Floodwood, Town Mountain, Willie Sugarcapps, The Duhks, Aoife O'Donovan, The Honeycutters, David Gans, Rumpke Mountain Boys, The Whiskey Gentry, Henhouse Prowlers and many more. The full schedule of events is now available online at suwanneespringfest.com/lineup/schedule.
This energetic and family friendly musical celebration is a gem of a festival with a great lineup, spring weather and a stunning natural setting. Tickets for Suwannee Springfest are on sale in advance for $170 ($190 at the gate) inclusive of all taxes and fees, and include 4 days of primitive camping and music. Kids under 12 are invited to join for free. Fans can also upgrade their experience with VIP tickets for $300. For RV hook ups, cabin rentals and golf cart rentals, please call SOSMP at (386)-364-1683. For further information and tickets, please visit www.suwaneespringfest.com.
Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, located just north of Live Oak, FL, is a one-of-a-kind music park and premier 500+ acre campground nestled on the shady banks of the historic, tea-colored Suwannee River in North Florida. SOSMP hosts a variety of events throughout the year including Wannee, Magnolia Festival, Bear Creek Music and Arts Festival, Hulaween, Aura Music Festival, The Purple Hatters Ball, The Zach Deputy Disc Jam and more. In addition to these events, the park offers live music during the week in the Music Hall and a natural amphitheater for outdoor music festivals.
Along with the camping, there are nearly 12 miles of trails suitable for hiking, biking, horseback riding and nature exploring. Bring along a fishing pole and wet a line from the dock on Rees Lake. Canoe and bike rentals are available at the on-site canoe outpost. Or take a dip in the nearby Suwannee Springs. SOSMP is located between Jacksonville, Florida & Tallahassee, Florida about 30 minutes south of the Georgia State line, about 45 minutes north of Gainesville. Please visit the park's web site at www.musicliveshere.com or call them at 386-364-1683 for more information.
Getty Images has taken a major step towards addressing unauthorized image use by allowing low resolution embedding of images for no charge, with no watermark, on non-commercial 'blogs and social media'. Admitting that combatting widespread unauthorized image use by the world's Internet users is impractical, Getty is pitching the new embedding service, which is available for more than 35 million photographs as a legal alternative to image theft. Click through to learn more.
[by Rosh Sillars]
How do the experts keep up-to-date on all the changes in social media and digital marketing? It seems like the industry changes on a weekly basis. Below is a list of blogs and podcasts I depend on to keep me in the know:
Twist Image Blog and Podcast: Mitch Joel makes me think. Mitch asks valuable and insightful questions of his guests. The blog is full of topics and ideas that make me look at the marketing world from new angles.
Marketing Over Coffee: Christopher S. Penn and John Wall are on top of what is going on in digital marketing and social media. Their weekly podcast keeps me in touch with what might be the next big thing. More importantly the conversations between Chris and John give context and offer new ways of looking at marketing ideas and concepts.
Copyblogger: If you are going to engage in social media, you need to know how to write. Copyblogger is full of excellent information on blogging, how to be a better blogger and create great content.
Social Media Examiner: This blog has become a standard go-to blog for many people interested in social media. With multiple authors and posts per day, the team is on top of industry news, ideas and information.
Don’t stop here. There are thousands of blogs and podcasts offering valuable information to the general public as well as for specific niche industries. You will find an excellent updated list of marketing blogs on adage.com’s power 150 list.