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 Henrique Plantikow. I’ve been keeping my eye on him and feel he is prolific and fresh.
How many years have you been in business?
I’ve been shooting professionally for about 2 years, before that I stayed busy building my portfolio.
Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I’m mostly self-taught. I studied graphic design in school, and learned things like composition and color theory, that also apply to photography. I learn by doing; I got a piece of advice from Kurt Markus that I’ve taken to heart. He said to me “if you’re curious about how photography works, just go out and try it”. I did, and photography became a process of self-discovery, I started going out and finding what was interesting to me.
Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
The reason I got into this business was because I fell in love with telling stories and creating moments. I was also inspired by the work of Bruce Weber and certain independent films like “Y Tu Mamá También”. What inspired me was the freedom to create something original.
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?
This might sound cliché but I find inspiration in the people around me. One of the things I enjoy doing is street casting; going to an unknown place with strangers and getting them to open up in front of the camera. The process is one of the rewards for me. I’ve made many friends because of photography.
Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
It depends on the client; some are more conservative than others. At the end of the day, I’m there to bring the art director’s vision to life; it can be tough for them when they have good ideas turned down by clients. That’s why I keep creating personal work, I’m in control.
What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
I focus most of my attention on creating new work. I’ve also relied on in-person meetings and referrals. Meeting someone in person is important for me; I’ve been told that I look much different than what they expected. I started blogging recently; it gives me a chance to talk about my work. I also signed with an agent that has been showing my portfolio all over.
What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
The biggest decision you make when you decide to become a photographer is: what will I shoot? I think there are two schools when it comes to this. One way is to pick a category of commercial photography, and build a body of work around that category. This is easier in the short term because you have a map to follow. But you’re second-guessing and copying what’s already been done.
The 2nd way is to develop your personal voice. This is harder in the beginning, and will take longer to get noticed. But in the long run you’ll create work that’s authentic to you.
Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
All the time. That’s when I’m having the most fun…
How often are you shooting new work?
It depends on the week; I like to keep it spontaneous. One thing I do is, go on a sprint of shooting, then I take some time to review and edit what I got.
Born in a small Brazilian town, Henrique grew up a very free spirit. His earliest memories include walking around his neighborhood hanging out with his friends getting in to trouble. He believes that from this time on he was subconsciously drawn to street culture, an ever present theme in his photography today. However, photography was not Henrique’s first love or foray in to the commercial world, he actually began as a graphic designer, a skill he believes informed his overall aesthetic. After 7 yrs of staring at a computer screen for 9+ hrs a day, a tired Henrique picked up a camera and has yet to put it down. His images have graced the pages of Dazed & Confused, Flaunt, Paper, and Out. Clients love his raw, authentic style, energetic work ethic, and desire to tell stories through his images.
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.