Art Producers Speak: Therese + Joel

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.sease@verizon.net

Anonymous Art Buyer: I nominate Therese + Joel as they are a great team and the one’s to keep an eye on!

Portrait of pop singer Betty Who for Out Magazine's "The Young and Restless" Musician Portfolio.

Portrait of pop singer Betty Who for Out Magazine’s “The Young and Restless” Musician Portfolio.

Victoria's Secret Model Elsa Hosk channeling Nancy Sinatra for Galore Mag's "Women Who Rock" issue.

Victoria’s Secret Model Elsa Hosk channeling Nancy Sinatra for Galore Mag’s “Women Who Rock” issue.

Campaign for FLKLR Surf, shot at Rockaway Beach, New York.

Campaign for FLKLR Surf, shot at Rockaway Beach, New York.

Portrait of the actress and filmmaker Greta Gerwig shot for TIME Magazine. It was also named one of TIME's Best Portraits of 2013

Portrait of the actress and filmmaker Greta Gerwig shot for TIME Magazine.
It was also named one of TIME’s Best Portraits of 2013

We were commissioned by TIME Magazine to document New York Fashion week. This is one of our favorite photographs, shot at the Marc Jacobs Fall/Winter 2013 show. The image depicts models walking towards a large indoor "sun" installed at the venue, referencing artist Ólafur Elíasson's weather project.

We were commissioned by TIME Magazine to document New York Fashion week. This is one of our favorite photographs, shot at the Marc Jacobs Fall/Winter 2013 show. The image depicts models walking towards a large indoor “sun” installed at the venue, referencing artist Ólafur Elíasson’s weather project.

One of our favorite photographs of model Sara Blomqvist, included in our personal series "On Leaving".

One of our favorite photographs of model Sara Blomqvist, included in our personal series “On Leaving”.

Fashion editorial for Revs Magazine, shot in Lidingö, Sweden.

Fashion editorial for Revs Magazine, shot in Lidingö, Sweden.

Campaign for womenswear label Skotison. We absolutely loved the concept of the collection: B-list horror movies, The Cramps and goths at the beach.

Campaign for womenswear label Skotison. We absolutely loved the concept of the collection: B-list horror movies, The Cramps and goths at the beach.

Personal work, from the series "Three Graces", photographed in Sweden.

Personal work, from the series “Three Graces”, photographed in Sweden.

A very recent portrait of director Woody Allen, together with theatre director and choreographer Susan Stroman for TIME Magazine, shot at the St. James Theatre in New York City.

A very recent portrait of director Woody Allen, together with theatre director and choreographer Susan Stroman for TIME Magazine, shot at the St. James Theatre in New York City.

How many years have you been in business?
About four years now. 

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
We met while both studying at Parsons in Paris and later transferred over to Parsons the New School of Design in New York, from where we graduated.

Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
Therese was very influenced by her mother, who is a photographer. Joel doesn’t have one exact source of inspiration; the fascination for storytelling has been there as far as he can remember – it has just perhaps changed mediums over the range of years from written to visual. However, the greatest inspiration for both of us must be film - early European cinema, great minds like Ingmar Bergman, Carl Theodor Dreyer, Douglas Sirk, the melodrama of film noir, our similar taste in music (power ballads, italo disco), as well as 90s masterpieces like Twin Peaks, and Tim Burton’s Catwoman – tragic pop culture icons.

We were also heavily influenced by our Nordic surroundings – Therese grew up in Stockholm, Sweden, and Joel in Finnish Lapland. Even if a bit of a cliché, the pitch-black, arctic surroundings have definitely played a great influence on us. 

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?
Perhaps it’s not so much about staying fresh and/or following trends – we rather try to do what we find interesting, inspiring and beautiful. 

Since we are two it is important for us to discuss and communicate our ideas with one another. It is helpful though that we share a lot of interests, but also important to disagree at times to challenge each other. Usually one of us comes up with something they find inspiring, and the other one takes it to another level. In that way, we complete each other’s sentences. 

Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
Communication is truly key, as well as staying true to your vision and doing what you do best – not trying to mimic something else to become more accessible. That being said, it is of course important to stay flexible. And occasionally art buyers or creatives find our darker work the most interesting, but have a difficult time to convince the client to go for something less mainstream. 

What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
Editorial work has been very important for us in approaching different and larger audiences.

We find social media to be extremely helpful: Instagram, Facebook and Tumblr. Not only just to get our work out there, but also for other reasons like casting for example. We also find that social media makes us more accessible; it’s a great way to interact, as well as to show our process.

What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
Understand your audience. Taste varies, but it’s really hard to get away from bad editing – sequencing your book appropriately is a crucial step in storytelling. 

Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
We work when we are not working: personal projects are incredibly important to us. We find it very helpful to our creative process to constantly produce new work – not only to try out new things, but also keep exceeding at what we do.

How often are you shooting new work?
As often as possible - commissioned work keeps us very busy, but we try to shoot at least one new personal project every month.

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Therese Öhrvall and Joel Jägerroos are a Swedish-Finnish photography team. They live and work in New York City.

Therese + Joel’s work has been exhibited internationally, including The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, New Mexico, The Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia, Krasnoyarsk State Museum in Siberia, Milk Gallery & F.L.O.A.T. Gallery in New York City, Gallery S. Bensimon in Paris, France and Ricoh Ring Cube Gallery in Tokyo, Japan.

Their clients include TIME Magazine, Wired, REVS, The Wall Street Journal, The Times, S Magazine, Out Magazine, FLATT Magazine, Milk Made, Galore Mag, IVANAHelsinki, Bullett Magazine and New York Post, amongst others.

Therese + Joel were selected as one of the 30 emerging photographers to watch in 2011 by Photo District News. Their photo of Greta Gerwig was named as one of TIME’s Best Portraits of 2013.

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.

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