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 Director: I nominate: Hollis Bennett. Hollis is a well-established and up & coming shooter in Nashville TN. I’d say he’s fresh, but oftentimes he’s straight off the grubby rugby pitch or an international flight from a less than sanitary destination and is a little less–fresh. But Hollis has a no-doubt knack at portraiture that just mesmerizes me.
How many years have you been in business?
I’ve been shooting for about 3 years now. Prior to being behind the camera I came up through the ranks as PA, 1st assistant, digi tech, retoucher, etc.
Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I have a degree from an art school that will remain nameless so, technically, Im school taught but really it was all self taught and learning on the fly.
Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
I really find the work of Dan Winters and Andy Anderson to continue to push me and challenge me. Jack Spencer really taught me the power of narrative and digging deeper. As for a specific time/place/photo that pushed me towards photography, I couldn’t tell you.
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 hold dear the idea that no ‘photo’ can ever happen more than once, so you need to be out there with your eyes wide open and mind receptive to all sorts of influences. Understanding and interpreting all that stimulus is another story and therein lies the biggest challenge.
Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
I don’t think that I’ve bumped up against this yet but I can see there being some friction when it comes to things like using ‘real’ people vs. hired talent and that sort of thing. I see a lot of images fall on their face when you try and coax something that just isn’t true out of a situation.
What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
I shamelessly self promote through the standard outlets (email, print, etc.) but there is no substitute for a face to face meeting. I get my books in front of as many people as possible. Also, shooting something ridiculous every now and then helps as well.
What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
You have to target images to the audience so as not to waste anyone’s time but the images have to be unmistakably yours and have your own aesthetic and narrative to them.
Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
Yes, constantly. I have a bruise around my eye at the moment from so much camera action these last few days. Spring and Summer are tough because the weather and light are so nice all I do is shoot and the editing always falls by the wayside.
How often are you shooting new work?
See above. This time of year, probably about 3 days a week, sometimes more. There is a delicate balance between shooting, editing and running a business – all of which are equally important.
Hollis Bennett is an award winning photographer based in Nashville Tennessee. Originally from Knoxville, he has lived on 3 coasts (E, W, and Alaska) in the largest cities to the smallest remote communities.
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.