Ask Anything – Making It Outside Of NYC And LA

- - Ask Anything

Former Art Buyers and current photography consultants Amanda Sosa Stone and Suzanne Sease have agreed to take anonymous questions from photographers and not only give their expert advice but put it out to a wide range of photographers, reps and art buyers to gather a variety of opinions. The goal with this column is to solicit honest questions and answers through anonymity.

QUESTION:

It’s been talked about before, but the whole “what does it take to make it’ outside of NYC and LA”… especially starting out. It amazes me that photo editors are still flying photographers from NYC to (in my example) Wyoming, Oregon, Washington, the NW in general. For medium-sized shoots, not a large shoot where one NYC photographer’s specific style is paramount to the success of the assignment. So, the question is: how does a photographer living in a place like the NW (where I’m actually enjoying life) stay on top of the radar for someone like a NYC-centric photo editor? I go to NYC 2-3 times a year and just try to annihilate the place with meetings (32 on my last visit) and the response is really great, though I often am told at the end that there’s not much assignment in that neck of the woods. But is there anything else I can do to stay on a PE’s or AB’s radar, besides meetings and promos, when I’m nearly 4,000 miles away?

ANSWERS:

PHOTO EDITOR:
We definitely look to hire photographers in regional areas for portraits & action. I suggest that the photographers have to stay in touch with the PE’s & Associate PE’s and Assistant PE’s within the magazine. They are often the eyes for the Photo Editors and Photo Directors. Also, by sending PE’s an email with promo image, and their location to remind them in the subject line. I like the idea that when they have to approach me via email that they keep it simple & light. “Hey, just shot this take a look thought this might be useful the magazine.” Share with the PE that you can work with their Editorial budget. (music to my ears). We have to know that you can shoot what we are looking editorially and with the same style that the NYC photographer that we are currently hiring can do! And oh yeah, read our magazine, and say hey, I saw this story in the current issue of our magazine, and that you love the portraits and think I can help provide the type of photography you are looking for. I always like this saying in the corporate world “dress for the job you want!” I believe the same is for true for photographers who are looking to break in to the editorial market.

PHOTO EDITOR:
This is a tough question, but working for a regional magazine with a smaller art budget and only state based Editorial for the most part, I choose photographers who are mostly in state, and occasionally able to assign a shoot elsewhere or have a photographer shoot an assignment while they are in the area. There are a handful of major regional/city magazines who are using some of the best in local talent. It is a good way to get some great projects under your belt and still also to get your work under ASME, SPD and CRMA award judges if you are lucky (CRMA -City and Regional Magazine Association, ASME -American Society if Magazine Editors and SPD – Society of Publication Designers – referring to whoever judges the awards). We produce award-winning work and I am certain there are others like my pub out there! I think the key is to stay busy locally and try to link up to a national collective, for example, Luceo Images, which is a collective of photographers based around the country that promote each other’s work. I have been very impressed by their model and think it is innovative and constructive. It looks like a new trend in promotion.

To Summarize:
Are these 3 letters “NYC” just plain sexy to say? OF COURSE IT IS. Is it the final deciding factor? NO. You have to be a GOOD and hopefully GREAT photographer and the images have to speak for themselves. Does NYC have an energy and vibe attached to it? OF COURSE. It’s a special energy that is hard to come by, living there says for some “YOU MADE IT”. In reality, you have to make “it” – meaning GOOD IMAGES – to really arrive. Location comes second.

Call To Action:
PICK UP THE PHONE TODAY and MAKE AN EDITORIAL INTRODUCTION and if you are LOCAL to this publication – GET A MEETING to show your work.

If you want more insight from Amanda and Suzanne you can contact them directly (here and here) or tune in once a week or so for more of “Ask Anything.”

There Are 9 Comments On This Article.

    • Wow that’s what I get for trying to comment on multiple blogs at once. I really wanted to say great article and good insight. I’m putting some of this to use ASAP. Thanks again.

  1. Thanks Amanda and Susan, also to the PE’s. I think those who are outside of the NYC and LA seem to struggle to find the door way into the business and keep it open.

    I think the smaller magazines are a great way to start out. A regional Magazine was the first place I submitted work to… and I am working on expanding to other regionals. Even though some of them have staff Photographers, I’ve found they are also filling multiple positions and have limited time to produce a substantial amount of images for publication.

    I wonder how many PE’s, AD’s, AB’s have a FB or LinkedIn profile that you could have a low key friendship with them to stay at the fore font of names they remember. JMHO

  2. I have no desire to live in NYC or LA. Big cities just aren’t for this country boy. I’ve built a living from niche editorial stock that I license from the Pacific Northwest to magazine and book publishers across the country. I’ve marketed by postal mail, stay in touch with regular clients by e-mail, and network through a subject-matter specific trade organization. I’ve never met many of my customers face to face.

    Could I gross more from NYC? Possibly, but my expenses would be a lot higher as well.

  3. Yes, thank you so much for this insight. I’m a up and comer out of Florida tyring to break in.

    Are phone calls really a way to go? I’ve always heard they’re more annoying than helpful?

    • @Jeremiah Stanley, you just have to be careful of your dialogue. When calling say your name and state that you are going to send them an e-mail with dates you would like to come in and show your book. So before you make that call, make sure you have that e-mail address. Give them three date and time choices and ask them to select one. They usually will. If you leave it open ended then they won’t commit to a time. Good Luck!!