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 Max Dworkin. He is a great up and coming photographer who I had the pleasure of working with him on a very large project for a major account. Its exciting to watch his career develop as well as be selected in PDN’s-Emerging Photographer’s Spring 2014 issue.
How many years have you been in business?
I am happy to say this was my first year shooting for myself full time, I have been getting work for the past 3 years or so but it was hard to fully transition out of assisting.
Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
School, I went to the school of visual arts for photography, but I was getting into experimenting with photography way before I had considered any formal training. I was really into the dark room and built one in my bathroom during high school.
Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
That is hard to say as I had a lot of great teachers who were very encouraging and gave me opportunities that opened my eyes to the different ways I could work with photography. I was a TA for Sarah A. Friedman right after I graduated and also started assisting her, that was a great leaning experience as far as seeing what it looked like to make a living in the business, she is a great friend and still always down to give advice or get an honest opinion from.
I did have an experience early on at SVA during a portfolio review where I was asked very straight forward “what was it that I want to do”? It seems like a basic question that I would have already asked myself but being put on the spot and seriously considering it made me realize what I wanted most was to be able to work and support myself as a photographer.
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 try to see new and different art as much as possible. It can get daunting at times to be so involved in my own process of shooting editing and retouching, seeing other work helps to break it up.
It gives me more confidence to try new things and take some chances, sometimes when I let go a bit and stop thinking so much about where I’m going with an image or series, I stumble across a fresh perspective. I like to go sit with a pile of magazines somewhere and just see whats out there from the ads to the stories, the internet has so much content available but to physically see who is shooting what and how the photos are run seems to help my process and inspire me.
Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
I have never experienced this to the point where I feel like I’m compromising my work but having someone who may not share the same vision can either hold you back or push you further. Personally I have had good luck working with clients that are on board with what I do, and if certain things do come up, I welcome the challenge to problem solve and shift things so everyone involved feels like they are being heard and are happy with the results.
Probably not enough…. As I’m learning more and more about how the promotional side of this business works I’m trying to come up with creative ways to get my work seen. I love having the outlet of a blog and website but I like the idea a making something physical and putting it out into the world. I’m working on editing and printing small editions of books with different themes or subject matter and sending them out as gifts or giving them away to anyone interested. Email me and I would love you send you one! email@example.com
What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
This can be especially tricky and in the past I have found myself going in a direction I may not necessarily have gone because I thought it was what people were looking for. At times it can be harder to stay true to yourself and show what you feel is your best work because it dosnt seem like its what people are responding to. In my experience, the payoff has been so much bigger when someone connects with work I have put a lot of myself into, In the end those are the people I want to work with anyway.
Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
Yes I am shooting all the time, if I’m not booked for a job I’m going out on self-assigned projects or helping out anyone who is interested in collaborating. I have a blog Pictured.tumblr.com where I have been posting a photo a day since 2011 it has been a great outlet for work that doesn’t really have another place to go. The work could be from a recent trip, an outtake from a job, or just a photo I shot that day. Having the structure of an ongoing project like this has kept looking at photos and made sure I always have a camera in my hand. Another unexpected thing I enjoy about it is that it serves as a visual journal for the past week, month, and even year, I can go into the archive section and see 30 or so images from the past month that show where I have been or what I was working on. There has been some great feedback from this and I like that it can showcase a really large range of work that I wouldn’t necessarily want on my website. I don’t like to be labeled as a photographer who does just one thing…. Part of the reason I love this job is because it allows freedom and creativity to work with so many different kinds of people and explore new places… I can be shooting a portrait in the studio one day and be out in the street shooting skateboarding the next. It’s really what keeps me going.
How often are you shooting new work?
As much as possible, maybe 3-4 times a week. If I’m not shooting for a client I’m usually out shooting for a personal project or for someone who has reached out about working together. I like to keep really busy and having the luxury of working with digital and not paying out of pocket for jobs with no money I take on almost any project I’m approached with as long as I’m interested in the subject matter and have creative control.
Max Dworkin is a NYC based photographer who lives and works in Brooklyn. He is the photo editor of Remember Paper magazine and co founder of Get Summered an arts and lifestyle company.
He is currently looking for representation.
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.