Heidi: You are well versed in fashion with your former experience as Photo Director of Teen Vogue Magazine and the Associate Photo Editor of T: The New York Times Style Magazine, and most recently Contributing Photo Director of Bazaar. How do you hope to set WSJ apart from those titles as they all share some of the same photographers/strong fashion sense?
The WSJ readership – and our ability to appeal to that readership – is what distinguishes us. We reach over 3 million highly sophisticated, well-educated readers worldwide, including the US, Europe and Asia and we always try to keep in mind the broad interests of our demographic when we commission stories and photography. The magazine comprises a wide range of content from art, fashion, design, travel and food to business and technology, which makes it very exciting in terms of the types of photography that we can commission. In recent issues, we have been fortunate enough to work photographers including Alasdair McLallen, Juergen Teller, Nan Goldin, Terry Richardson, Josh Olins and Mikael Jansson for portraiture and fashion as well as William Eggleston, Olaf Otto Becker, Harf Zimmermann and Robert Polidori for travel and features. By frequently encouraging photographers to explore subjects that they don’t typically shoot, we’re able to create vibrant and unique stories. For example, Ben Hassett, who’s well known for his fashion photography, recently went to Spain to shoot portraits and food for a story on the legendary Arzak family and their eponymous restaurant in San Sebastien. For the June issue, Harf Zimmermann, who traditionally shoots landscapes and architecture, went to Milan to shoot several pieces from the late Anna Piaggi’s extraordinary fashion collection as still life. In my experience, photographers enjoy these unexpected assignments/commissions, and the result is a portfolio of beautiful and often unexpected photographs.
How would you like people to get into touch with you?
The best way for people to reach me is via email, preferably not through a list serve or automatic e-blast service as those tend to get stuck in my junk mail.
Has there been a place where you discovered new talent that surprised you?
Instagram has been a great way for me to follow photographers, artists, stylists and editors. I not only see what they are working on and whom they are working with but it’s also a great place to find new talent, new locations etc. I don’t necessarily find photographers by looking at the images that they post but if someone’s visual perspective on Instagram is intriguing, then I will often visit their website if it is listed in their profile to see their work. I also love going to photography festivals. For example, this past July I traveled to Les Rencontres d’Arles for the first time and spent time with photographers, gallerists and fellow photo editors in a beautiful village in the south of France. It is a wonderful way to share knowledge and discover talent as well as seek out more obscure photo books that feature talent I may not have come across through the more traditional channels.
How much to you look at social media, blogs or instagram for new talent/inspiration
As I said, I am really enjoying Instagram right now. I also spend a good amount of time looking at blogs dedicated to photography, fashion, interiors, food and design. That said I try not to go overboard in the social media space. It is important to me that I am able to get out to see photography in person. There is nothing that makes me appreciate a photograph more than seeing a print on paper, and experiencing its artistry and beauty directly rather than on a screen. I am also fortunate to work with two very talented and resourceful photo editors, our Photo Editor Damian Prado and our Assistant Photo Editor Hope Brimelow. They are always finding talent on obscure photo blogs and in books as well as at established galleries and shows. I can always count on Damian in particular, to find incredible talent in the most unlikely places. Also, our Creative Director, Magnus Berger is of course another great source of inspiration and talent. He, Kristina and I are always discussing the people that we are excited about, the references that we love and who we want to work with next – it is a real collaboration here.
Also I’d love to talk about the fashion piece you did with Lachlan Bailey. What a stunning shoot. How did you and the fashion director approach this fashion shoot? Did you have a concept for this, or did you want to celebrate a particular trend?
For the couture story, our main objective was to show our readers our take on the best of couture at that particular moment. Our Editor-in-Chief Kristina O’Neill, Magnus and I worked together to determine who could achieve the creative and fashion brief while keeping in mind the point of view of the magazine. Photographer Lachlan Bailey and stylist Clare Richardson worked together to bring the story to fruition, working with model Andreea Diaconu, to create something beautiful, ethereal and luxurious. We don’t have a fashion director at the magazine so we work with a small group of freelance stylists.
Do you ever do any celebrity fashion shoots? Or in your mind is that too much of mixed message? Meaning does one dilute the other?
Regarding celebrity shoots, we are starting to dip into that territory. We like to keep our readers surprised with covers ranging from interiors to landscapes to celebrities. It is really about what makes the strongest cover story.
How long did it take to produce the Daniel Jackson shoot of the curators? and what made you chose him for this portrait project?
Venice was a highly collaborative and intensely challenging shoot to put together from a photographic, journalistic and production point of view. Our Fashion Features Director Elisa Lipsky-Karasz and I worked together to “cast” the portfolio with our Editor-in-Chief Kristina O’Neill and the other editors from the magazine. Our Assistant Photo Editor Hope Brimelow worked tirelessly on the production alongside a local producer in Venice. To say that Venice is a challenging place to shoot, particularly during the opening days of the Biennale, is an understatement but that was part of the fun. We chose Dan to shoot this particular portfolio not only because of his beautiful portrait work but specifically because he had expressed an interest in doing stories that are outside of his usual purview. We had many of the subjects for as little as ten minutes and we ended up shooting over 20 people over two days in three locations so Dan certainly had his work cut out for him. It was quite a scene to watch people like Rem Koolhaas, Thomas Demand, MaurizioCattellan and Marc Quinn arriving one after another in their water taxis to the water entrance of our main location, a private palazzo on the Grand Canal.