Posts by: A Photo Editor

Art Producers Speak: Jonathan Kozowyk

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 Jonathan Kozowyk. Not only is he very talented, he is very easy to work with.

I told you I took pictures of my dog. — this was the first time she paid attention to her friends barking across the street. I guess it is a good example that I always have a camera close by.

I told you I took pictures of my dog. — this was the first time she paid attention to her friends barking across the street. I guess it is a good example that I always have a camera close by.

Part of an ongoing personal project, I try to work on something everyday.

Part of an ongoing personal project, I try to work on something everyday.

Austin Dorr, I wanted to photograph this man the very first day I saw him, years later I did in a personal project about the marina where I was living in at that time in Gloucester, Massachusetts. He wrote his name on everything he owned on the dock. On the door to his workshop right in between the American Flag and the Jolly Rodger, he wrote in sharpie, “If a man is too busy to go fishing, he is too damn busy.”

Austin Dorr, I wanted to photograph this man the very first day I saw him, years later I did in a personal project about the marina where I was living in at that time in Gloucester, Massachusetts. He wrote his name on everything he owned on the dock. On the door to his workshop right in between the American Flag and the Jolly Rodger, he wrote in sharpie, “If a man is too busy to go fishing, he is too damn busy.”

From an ongoing personal project on humans and their relationship with flight. I was interested in it, so I pursued it. I love learning about what gets people out of bed at 5am on their day off — it is not just hobbies at that point.

From an ongoing personal project on humans and their relationship with flight. I was interested in it, so I pursued it. I love learning about what gets people out of bed at 5am on their day off — it is not just hobbies at that point.

From an ongoing personal project on humans and their relationship with flight. I was interested in it, so I pursued it. I love learning about what gets people out of bed at 5am on their day off — it is not just hobbies at that point.

From an ongoing personal project on humans and their relationship with flight. I was interested in it, so I pursued it. I love learning about what gets people out of bed at 5am on their day off — it is not just hobbies at that point.

Commission for a Community Sailing Program in Boston.  I actually hopped into Boston Harbor against my better judgement to get this one, happy I did though… they tell me the water is totally safe these days…

Commission for a Community Sailing Program in Boston. I actually hopped into Boston Harbor against my better judgement to get this one, happy I did though… they tell me the water is totally safe these days…

The Rev. Edward Sunderland from a commission for Saatchi Wellness and Crossroads Community Services in Manhattan. He is a social worker that works with people in need and the people who volunteer in shelters and food pantries. This was a pretty moving project that I was proud to be a part of.

The Rev. Edward Sunderland from a commission for Saatchi Wellness and Crossroads Community Services in Manhattan. He is a social worker that works with people in need and the people who volunteer in shelters and food pantries. This was a pretty moving project that I was proud to be a part of.

Johnny L. Morris, founder of Bass Pro Shops. Commission for Forbes, we went fishing at sunrise.

Johnny L. Morris, founder of Bass Pro Shops. Commission for Forbes, we went fishing at sunrise.

More personal work that I believe in. I have been photographing police officers and their K-9s for the past 3 years.

More personal work that I believe in. I have been photographing police officers and their K-9s for the past 3 years.

Farmer from a recent editorial commission.

Farmer from a recent editorial commission.

Personal project on Rally Racing in America, later the project got picked up by Maine Magazine, and I got to go finish up the project with a home town hero story about a local racer that just got sponsored by SCION.

Personal project on Rally Racing in America, later the project got picked up by Maine Magazine, and I got to go finish up the project with a home town hero story about a local racer that just got sponsored by SCION.

Personal work. A man after a plunge in a frozen lake in February in New England.

Personal work. A man after a plunge in a frozen lake in February in New England.

How many years have you been in business?

I’ve been working in the industry for a little over 12 years. I started out assisting, and have been shooting on my own for about 3 years now.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I went to Massachusetts College of Art for Graphic Design, but knew I wanted to make photographs. After I graduated I pursued my passion for photography and I was really lucky to apprentice some talented folks.

Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
I learned a ton from assisting Tibor Nemeth, Jason Grow, and Michael Prince.


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?
Really I find inspiration in everything around me. Sometimes it is from the creative people I work with, people I am photographing, or places I travel to. I try to absorb it all and then reinterpret it to show how I see the world. Within my work there is an element of timelessness, which I also feel is important. I always try to infuse that into whatever I am doing. I want my work to feel genuine.

Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?

Of course, that can happen, but I believe there is always a nice middle ground that can be reached, I am not a diva, I know that I got hired for a reason. When I am shooting I have a good understanding of what the agency and client need to walk away with at the end of the shoot. But I always try to get a something that I personally love out of each job.

What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
Lately I have been making a ton of little small run books and send them to creatives I want to collaborate with. Also visiting agencies and magazines to share my latest projects.

What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
I guess that approach can work. But I have been really trying to push myself to show work that I love as well. I try to pepper in some of what they may need to see, but I think it’s important for people to know that you bring something to the table.

Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?

Yes. I try to make pictures everyday, even if I am stuck in front of the computer doing post work, bidding on projects, or even while on phone calls. Sometimes they are just pictures of my dog or of people around the neighborhood.


How often are you shooting new work?
As much as possible. I have a few personal projects always going on. It ‘s a great way to stay loose and get motivated. I used to get caught up in thinking that I needed to “finish” a project, but lately I’ve been allowing myself the freedom to start a project and just let it take it’s course.

—————–

Jonathan Kozowyk is a commercial advertising and editorial photographer. He was formally trained at Massachusetts College of Art and Design where he received his BFA in Graphic Design. After graduation he set out to pursue his passion of photography.

Today Jonathan is based in New York City and is lucky to travel often for commissions all over the world. Jonathan enjoys collaborating with creatives to capture genuine moments big and small.

In his down time he likes to surf, ride his skateboard, look at maps, and spend time with his beautiful girlfriend and his furry dog.

Contact:

 
+1 347 901 2427 
jonathan@jonathankozowyk.com

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.

By 1905 A Third Of American Households Possessed A Camera

- - Blog News

Professional photographers were repelled by the weird, ungainly, often out-of-focus shots that amateurs produced. “Photography as a fad is well nigh on its last legs,” prayed the art photographer Alfred Stieglitz. Other pundits bemoaned “Kodak fiends,” camera obsessives who carried their device everywhere and were apparently so constantly taking pictures that they would space out and miss their trains.

via The Invention of the “Snapshot” Changed the Way We Viewed the World | Smithsonian.

On Making and Publishing a Book – For Photographers

- - Book Publishing

Guest Post by Carl Corey

PASSION, PURPOSE and PERSEVERANCE

“Passion and Purpose” – The credo put forth by Robert Frank as the necessary ingredients to creating successful and meaningful photography. I would add to that another, “Perseverance”. In any endeavor it would be impossible to attain true success without Passion and Purpose. Many photographers exhibit either passion, purpose or perseverance but the ones that succeed exhibit all three.

To create a successful photography book you must exhibit these three traits. Your work must have a purpose, it must communicate and strike a chord with the audience. This will be impossible if you are not passionate about your pictures and it will not get done if you can not persevere through some failure. Good work requires one to take risks and everyone who takes risks occasionally fails, however those failures can and will make you stronger if you allow them to.

RESEARCH

I strongly recommend you research the work which has preceded you. Look at the masters’ books and then look some more. Determine what it is about these books that makes them successful. You’ll see lots of passion on those pages, the work will have a purpose and clearly exhibit such. It will strike a chord with the viewer and hopefully initiate a creative or intellectual a response from them. If you wish to have some of that limited shelf space allotted picture books then your work must elicit a strong response.

EDITING

Assuming you have a strong body of work it needs to be edited into a stronger body of work to meet this publishing criteria. Editing is a very important component to creating a cohesive and strong book. It is also a very difficult process. We all know how hard it is to toss a picture we love because it just doesn’t fit. We all become infatuated with the newness of recent pictures or those that proved technically difficult. Unfortunately no one cares how hard it was technically for you to complete, or how fresh the picture is to you. It is the content that matters and good editing will assure that your content is as strong as it can be. Many of us tend to work in a vacuum, focused on the task at hand while completing a series of pictures. Once photography is completed it is very helpful to get a second or even third opinion on the book edit. You may find you need to create some new pictures to round out the book. I appreciate working with a good picture editor and find that their contribution manifests itself in the success of the book. If you are serious about your project I encourage you to solicit the help of an experienced picture editor working in your genre.

Keeping the work as simple and honest as possible works best. This does not mean you need to make simple pictures but rather should strive to eliminate any element that does not contribute to the purpose of the picture and subsequently also the book. Adhere to the credo that you are only as good as your weakest link. Show less but stronger pictures that engage the audience, don’t over tell the story. Leave a little open to interpretation for the audience to connect with.

DESIGN

Work with the best designer you can and be sure they are as passionate about the book as you are. It’s their work on those pages that will show yours in the best light possible. I like simple design. I adhere to the Bauhaus principle of “less is more”. I believe good design is unobtrusive and efficient but also compelling. Remember you are making a picture book and it is about the pictures. No amount of flashy design can mask poor picture content.

PUBLISHING

The decision to self publish or work with a publisher can only be made by you. It’s your book and your career. The same goes for ebook vs ink-book. The ebook has made it easy for anyone to put together a “book”. I use ebook format as a e-maquette editing tool. It helps to see content in order and adjust accordingly. While I am not affiliated with any companies I find the new version of Lightroom® 5. to be very accommodating in this regard. If you are not familiar with the Lightroom® book options you may wish to investigate it.

Publishing is a business. Businesses need to turn a profit and while some publishers are quite passionate about their titles and authors they never loose sight of the bottom line. This is responsible business practice and necessary for success. A first time author is a big risk. Picture books present even more risk as they are very expensive to produce. Publishing is also a tough business and getting tougher therefore the risk allowance is diminishing. Many publishers will ask a first time author to guarantee a return on investment. Requesting the author either purchase a quantity of books or contribute financially to the volumes production costs. It’s not unheard of to request a first time author pay all costs associated with producing the book.This is in addition to the cost of producing the original photography for the book. Adding up all these associated expenses makes it apparent that publishing a book can become quite an expensive endeavor. This will test your passion.

Be prepared for non appropriate deals to come your way from publishers and have the strength to say no to them. You have no negotiating power if you are not prepared to walk away from a deal. I encourage the first time author to be patient and wait for the right deal, to persevere. It took 7 years to get the right deal for my first book. It was frustrating at times but I am very pleased I waited for the right publisher to work with. Beware the vanity press that exists solely to profit from production of your book. Once they have delivered your book you will find yourself all on your own. I consider producing a book a partnership with the publisher, a joint effort with mutual benefit.

The advantages of working with a publisher are many and beyond the scope of this essay to allow for me to detail each. The most important benefit you gain by working with a publisher is credibility. Self publishing and vanity presses fall short on the credibility front. However vanity books can be viewed as promotional pieces and work within that venue for the assignment photographer, but only if done very well. However as an author credibility is very important and quite frankly the best return you will find from publishing a book is the credibility it affords you, the author. What you will get with a good book is a piece that, if used properly, will open doors for career growth.

Unfortunately as previously outlined there is no substantial author income to be had from your book. This is true whether you self publish or work with a publisher. If you are making a book with the intent of generating an income you will be disappointed. If income is your only goal invest the money and time elsewhere. You make a book because you have to, you are passionate about doing so. In my workshops and seminars I break down the associated costs of book making, the business of publishing and the ways you can use your book to help generate a livelihood. Remember the credibility associated with authoring a good book tops the list for opening doors to further opportunity.

Some of the advantages to working with a publisher are less or no financial risk, distribution and warehousing services ( you don’t want a garage full of 5000 books and be running to the Post office for every order ), guidance in editing, quality book design, production expertise and solid marketing. I cant stress this enough. Publishers want your book to succeed. Remember it’s all about the bottom line for them and sales of your books make a better bottom line. In addition more sales of your book means more credibility for you.

Self publishing has some merits as well. If you should be fortunate enough to create a best selling book your profits will be substantially better. You may actually recoup all the original photography and book production expenses and break even. That is a big “IF” however, and quite hard to almost impossible to do with out a publishers expertise behind it. Another advantage, if you view it as such, is that you will have complete control over the edit, design, production specs, warehousing, distribution, marketing and PR. However you will also have the expenses and responsibilities associated with the above. I am biased to working with a publisher. I am a photographer. I focus upon making pictures and let others more experienced than I in book production deal with the publishing aspects of making books.

WORKING WITH A PUBLISHER

If you decide to approach publishers here are several key items you need to know to assure your book receives the best possible opportunity to get published. I have outlined these below.

Define your goal with the book.
What is it you want from the book? Write down your goals think about them and be specific.

Select a topic that has a purpose.
Research is very helpful here. Look at where there are gaps in the medium. Does there need to be more coverage of a certain genre.

Select a topic you are passionate about.
People can feel if you are passionate about your pictures. Passion is conveyed by your demeanor but even more so from your pictures. If you are not passionate about what you are working on stop working and find something you are passionate about to do.

Be sure the book engages the audience.
Tell the story in your voice. Lead don’t follow, but never loose sight of who your audience is or you will loose them.

Estimate production costs of photography.
Be sure you can complete the book before you start. Find funding if needed through grants or corporate sponsorship.

Edit.
Remember you are only as good as your weakest link. A great picture diminishes when in the company of mediocrity.

Edit again.
You never get it perfect the first time.

Go ahead and edit a third time.
And rarely on the second.

Create a maquette or book dummy (these are the same thing but “maquette” sounds smarter).
“Maquette” is French defined as a sculptor’s rough test sculpture done before hitting the marble or casting the bronze. The maquette is very important in bookmaking. It is a rough of the book made prior to publishing. It’s also a very tricky item to get right as you want it to be rough but also enticing. Too finished and the publisher may feel pigeonholed and limited in input. Too loose and they may not be enticed to investigate further. I recommend you share a few pages from the book as a maquette, a “this is what I was thinking” sample and follow up with a color corrected and detailed PDF of just pictures. You may find other avenues better suited to specific publishers. Read the publisher’s submission criteria and adhere to it.

Research publishers that are appropriate for your work.
Like photographers publishers specialize. Fashion, documentary, landscape, reportage, narrative are all genres that some publishers limit themselves to. Be sure the publishers you contact are appropriate for your book. They like knowing you do your research as well.

Respectfully approach publishers with the maquette.
Publishers are dedicated hard working people trying to survive in a dwindling and ever more competitive marketplace. It’s a tough job, be nice to them.

Negotiate a favorable contract for all.
Be sure you are happy with the deal you make. You will live with it. I assure you the publisher will be comfortable with any deal they make. You want a pleasant and honest partnership surrounding your book.

Be realistic in negotiations and prepared to walk away.
What are you getting from the publisher in exchange for all your hard work, original photography financial investment and passion? Be sure they have a finely tuned operation capable of supporting you and your book. Design, production quality, warehousing, distribution, marketing, PR, and payment are the areas you should be concerned with. Ask other authors about the publisher. Bring up these areas when negotiating with the publisher. If you are a first time author it’s a tougher go negotiating.

Persevere.
I doubt the first publisher who sees your book maquette will publish it. Probably not the second, third, fourth, fifth….. You can not let rejection be a reflection upon the merit of your book or more importantly you. There are many publishers and most won’t be right for your book. When your book is rejected politely ask what it that the publisher is looking for. If you see a common denominator from publishers possibly adjust your book to eliminate the problem.

I hope this brief and opinionated synopsis proves beneficial to those of you wishing to publish a picture book. While extremely difficult, authoring a picture book is a rewarding, satisfying undertaking. Your book can serve as the instrument to inform, elicit response, effect positive social change and open doors for you to continue to do even more with your pictures. Just remember these three words and you’ll be off to a good start: Passion, Purpose and Perseverance.

Carl Corey is the author of three books; “Rancher” – Bunker Hill 2007, “Tavern League” – WHS Press 2011 and “For Love and Money” – WHS Press 2014. He is the recipient of over 100 awards from the photographic and publishing communities including the Crystal Book Award for Best Photography Book 2012, National Best Sellers Award 2012, INDIE Publishers Award of Excellence 2014, Pub West Gold 2012 and Foreward Top Ten. He presents group seminars and teaches one on one workshops.

I Take Photographs To Make Discoveries For Myself

- - Blog News

I am interested in ideas. I am not interested in doing the same thing over and over again. The reason I take photographs is to make discoveries for myself. Always trying to piece together the puzzle, that’s where I get my rush. Once I find the answer I am looking for that’s usually it for a project, the excitement and energy is gone. I move onto something else, or away from that subject matter until I can view it with fresh eyes again.

via An interview with Trent Parke – Try Hard Magazine.

This Week In Photography Books: Brad Wilson

- - Photography Books

by Jonathan Blaustein

I was riding in the passenger seat of a Volvo SUV. Headed North. My father was driving; my young son in the back seat.

We were going to Red River to ride some go-karts. A classic summertime ritual. The mountains were to the East, and out the driver side, we saw the great American desert, rolling all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

The western sky was dark and ominous, as there were massive rainstorms approaching us faster than an unarmed man can raise his hands at the sight of a loaded gun. It had been raining for weeks, so the deluge was clearly imminent.

Which made our go-karting endeavor look a tad futile.

My son asked whether we would make it in time. My father replied that he was an optimist, so we’d plow forward. My son, clever, but not omniscient, asked what an optimist was.

My Dad explained an optimist was a person who looked on the bright side, and expected things to work out well. A pessimist, he countered, tended to fear the worst, and assume it would come to pass.

“Which are you, Daddy,” the boy asked me?

“I’m neither, I said. I’m the third thing. A realist. I think sometimes things work out, and sometimes they don’t.”

“OK. You’re a realist. So will we get to ride the go karts,” he asked?

“That storm is coming really fast. If we get a ride in, I’d say we were lucky. I doubt we’ll get there before the track is too wet to be safe.”

Not that my predictive qualities are always spot on, but that day, it was not to be. The heavens opened, and we had to settle for raiding the candy store, and then getting back in the Swedish Tank to go home.

C’est la vie.

It’s easy, these days, to succumb to the belief that the world is coming to an end. The militarized mess in the St. Louis suburbs. Another war in the Holy Land. ISIS gobbling up territory in Mesopotamia. Planes shot out of the sky by a newly voracious and expanding Russia. (Forgive me, I meant Putin’s proxies in Eastern Ukraine.)

And then there are the stories about elephants being massacred for their ivory. Tigers killed for fake Chinese medicine. Or Rhinos slaughtered for horn to make some old guy’s penis hard.

Onward we march towards oblivion, it seems.

What sayeth the realist? Well, it is hard to be optimistic these days. But what choice do we have? If you’ve bred children, it’s far too sad to assume the world will die around them. Better to hope we’ll figure it out, but I’m not so sure.

Just in case, it might be wise to record nature’s bounty while it’s here. To embed likeness in paper, and safe keep it for future generations. (Sample conversation in 2114, “Daddy, what’s an elephant look like? Why did they go extinct?”)

Fortunately, the Santa Fe-based photographer Brad Wilson had done it for us. Even better, for posterity, he used a super-badass-high-end-digital camera, so the details are there in their hyper-real glory. (Eyelashes and all.)

I know this, because I went to photo-eye this week to pick up a new stack of books, as promised. And there the photos were on the wall, staring me down like an angry drunk mad-dogging you outside the movie theater at 9:45pm on a Friday night. (Speaking of Fridays, the exhibition opens tonight, if you happen to be in town.)

The prints are big, black and gorgeous. (Insert random inappropriate joke here.) If you have a chance to go see them, I’d highly recommend it. If not, of course, we always have the book, “Wild Life,” recently published by Prestel.

According to a promotional video they showed me at the store, the artist hired animal trainers to bring the creatures to a studio in LA. And the book says other pictures were shot at a raptor sanctuary in Española, a zoo in Albuquerque, and, of course, a location in St Louis, Missouri. (Wouldn’t be one of my reviews if the snake didn’t eat its tail.)

The pictures manage to be beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. The chimps are so clearly sentient. The big cats so fierce. The eagles so mesmerizing. In fairness, the owl photos are trapped in full bleed in the book, so their impact is muted, compared to the prints.

But this book oozes “future-historical-importance.” I think I brought up some of these concepts when I reviewed Sebastião Salgado’s “Genesis” a while back. I prefer this book, though.

That one seemed a tad emotionally manipulative. This feels more clean. More objective, if I might use a taboo word, for once. He threw up a black backdrop, brought in some rapidly disappearing animals, got really close with a great camera, and made the pictures.

Here. Look.

For now, the photographs are representations of living creatures. If we don’t change course, however, they will be all we have left. So says the realist.

Bottom Line: Fantastic record of the animal kingdom, while we have it

To Purchase “Wild Life” Visit Photo-Eye

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Books are provided by Photo-Eye in exchange for links back for purchase.

Books are found in the bookstore and submissions are not accepted.

The Costly Business of Photo Book Publishing

- - Blog News

Founder and publisher Daniel Power says that as long as they believe they can sell a minimum quantity—a good portion of a 1,000- or 1,500-print run—they don’t ask the photographer to subsidize production costs.

Yet if the house sees potential in a project, “but not enough to pay for everything the artist wants—to make it really big or deluxe,” they will ask the artist to contribute to cover those costs.

via PDNonline.com.

True Professionals Will Adapt And Find Ways To Work Within The New Visual Environment

- - Blog News

Mobile photography is photography. Though if you say that mobile photography is only photography it’s like saying there’s no difference between driving a car or catching a bus, it’s just transport, right? Yet the actual experiences are vastly different. No one questioned the name “mobile phone” when it was used compared to a fixed line phone.

[...]A generation of professional photographers will appear from the impact of mobile photography, and true professionals will adapt and find ways to work within the new visual environment.

via #LightBoxFF: Oliver Lang’s Crash Course on Adapting to Instagram – LightBox.

Art Producers Speak: Erik Umphery

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 Erik Umphery. I love him not only as an artist, but as a person. He has an unique style and was great to work with.

Michelle Williams single art work for "Say Yes"

Michelle Williams single art work for “Say Yes”

Personal work shot in London

Personal work shot in London

Personal work shot in Barstow, CA

Personal work shot in Barstow, CA

Editoral shot for 360 Magazine

Editoral shot for 360 Magazine

Editoral shot for 360 Magazine

Editoral shot for 360 Magazine

Personal work shot in Tijanna, Mexico

Personal work shot in Tijanna, Mexico

Personal work shot in Barstow, CA

Personal work shot in Barstow, CA

Personal work shot in London

Personal work shot in London

Personal work shot in Malibu, CA

Personal work shot in Malibu, CA

Personal work shot in Palms Springs, CA

Personal work shot in Palms Springs, CA

Usher Raymond shot for BET Networks Image Campaign

Usher Raymond shot for BET Networks Image Campaign

Adesuwa shot for Essence Magazine denim Story

Adesuwa shot for Essence Magazine denim Story

Personal work shot in Downtown Los Angeles

Personal work shot in Downtown Los Angeles

Erykah Badu shot for Essence Magazine

Erykah Badu shot for Essence Magazine

How many years have you been in business?
3yrs 3months

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
Self-Taught

Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
I worked in corporate America for 9 years prior to becoming a professional photographer, and when the recession hit a lot of my friends lost their jobs and decided to pursue their passions. I was doing extremely well in my career, receiving accolades and a level of financial success that I had not believed I would have achieved at a young age, but I was unhappy. And the more friends I saw doing what they loved, even with the stress of booking that next job or knowing how everything was going to work out, the more I desired to pursue my passion. I guess it was like one of my favorite quote’s from Marianne Williamson, ”As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others the permission to do the same.” For me, my friend’s light gave me the permission to leave my comfort zone and being really living and pursuing something I love.

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?
Traveling is a big part of my life and it influences how I create. I think the biggest thing for me is being visually stimulated, so when I’m given the opportunity to go somewhere new I always jump at the chance. Living in Los Angeles, is the perfect place for me, because California has so much visually to offer, and it is accessible. I can hop in my car and in a few hrs, I can be on a mountain, in the desert, at the beach, on a cliff, etc…, so I’m always traveling being inspired and recently I’ve developed an appreciation for other types of arts (writing, acting, illustration) which has opened my eyes to an entirely new world of inspiration. The way I translate all of that into my own creativity is by taking everything that I see or read, and I try to do my best to translate that to my own experiences, to create something how I see it from my own perspective, so if I read something that inspires me I say how does that look in my mind, or if it’s a location I’ll ask myself what would be something I could see happening here.

Pushing the envelope creatively for me is always about doing something that I feel uncomfortable with. When I have butterflies in my stomach about something or I start hearing that little voice in my head questioning what I’m doing it let’s me know that I’m pushing myself to refine my true vision and creating something truly unique and from my perspective. I look for those feelings in everything I shoot.

Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
I’ve been really fortunate that the assignments I’ve received early in my career the clients have given me a lot of flexibility, I’ve heard that isn’t always the case in this industry. I learned early on that you should focus on accomplishing what the client is looking for first then push the envelop with your creativity and typically the images that I find myself pushing the envelop on are the clients favorites, so it’s a win-win, I give the client what they want and I’m able to use the resources/production they have to create something I love.

What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
I make it a point to travel to NY once a month and meet with agencies and magazines. I’ve been doing this for about a year now and it’s really been paying off. I do not have a rep, so I have to beat the pavement myself, but for me it is fun. I get to travel to an amazing city and meet so many interesting creative people. Not starting my career in this industry I look at as a positive and negative when it comes to reaching my buying audience. The positive is I don’t know how people in the industry reach their buying audiences so I’m not restricting myself to any industry norms that may exist, so I’m not tied to doing things a certain way because “that’s how things are done traditionally”. The negative is since I did not go to arts school, I do not have the network already of art directors and producers that I would have attended school with, but that’s ok I just have to work harder to build that network now.

Outside of face to face meetings, I attend Adhesive as often as I can to connect with creatives and sending personalized emails vs the typical email blast have help tremendously in starting a dialogue that will ultimately lead to new opportunities down the road.

What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
I know about this all to well, simply don’t do it. When I started I knew I wanted to shoot campaigns, so I’d shoot what I though art directors wanted to see. That did not get me far at all, and luckily I had a decent relationship with an art director that helped guide me as far away from that as possible. People want to see something different than what they have already seen and we all have the ability to create something different if we show things from our own experiences and perspective. You want the work you create to represent you, and to be work you are passionate about, which ultimately leads to you booking work that falls into your sweet spot vs work that you are not passionate about, and it definitely has away of showing.

Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
I try to shoot for myself several times a month. At times when I’m really busy it can be challenging but, in order for me to continue growing and developing my vision/style it requires shooting a lot. Even though shooting jobs is great and required to sustain a living, there is nothing better than being able to create something that you have full creative control over. I plan to continue shooting for myself several times a month, 5, 10, and 20 years from now, because I love photography as a medium to create.

How often are you shooting new work?
This year has been really great for me both commercially and personally. I’ve been able to create new work that I’m extremely proud of every month, both personal and commercial.

—————–

I’m originally from Baltimore, MD. I was introduced to photography by my Mother at a young age and developed my love for it. She passed when I was 11 and I stopped shooting. As I got older I had the desire to get back into photography, and even signed up for a course when I was in college, but you had to purchase a SLR camera and I could not afford it at the time. I graduated with a degree in Finance and went of to work in corporate America, several years into my career a friend posted on facebook, “who wants to take a photography class with me”, I went out purchased a camera and signed up for the 6 week class. This pretty much sums up my life now:
Running shoes, check. Camera, check. iPhone, check. I’m good. Gave up suits & ties for a camera and a hell-of-a-life.
 My mantra is to live, love, travel, eat and along the way capture these moments.

Erik Umphery
www.erikumphery.com
erik@erikumphery.com
310.387.1715

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.

My Photo Went Viral, And Nothing Could Have Prepared Me For What Happened After

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the media attention, coverage, and money was and continues to be great. I loved it all. But what’s even cooler is that I have been contacted by people, companies, and organizations that I never expected that I’d be in touch with. Airports, local and abroad, have contacted me with an interest in hiring me to do work for them. Airplane manufacturers and leasing companies have been in touch…

This image truly has created opportunities that I never thought possible.

via fstoppers.com.

I am just a guy with an iPhone who likes taking pictures.

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Being a commercial photographer is not my goal, nor will it ever will be. I don’t have the training, or the experience to compete with established professionals. I believe I am part of a photography movement that is based on capturing experiences, experiences from a viewpoint of someone that isn’t a traditional commercial or editorial photographer. Clients aren’t providing me with a set shot list, but rather giving me the freedom to capture the moments as I see them from behind my lens, both mobile and DSLR. I see value in the ability to offer a client both tools to suit their needs, access to my audience and vision through my mobile device, as well as the more versatile, larger image size of my DSLR work.

via Scott Rankin’s Portfolio – Blog.

Things I Learned After My Photo Hit #1 on Reddit, and Why I Probably Shouldn’t Have Posted It

- - Blog News

Outstanding! 20,000 people visited my site! Some people even messaged me asking if they could buy a print!… I have not heard anything more. I did not sell anything.

Oh well, at least my other images got exposure…? Not really. As you can see, nearly everyone who visited my site came for the original image, maybe scrolled once or twice through others in that set, then left. The shop page didn’t even make it into the top ten most-visited.

via petapixel.com.

Art Producers Speak: John Fulton

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 John Fulton.

"Wrong Tools" campaign for Three Atlanta and CPA Global.

“Wrong Tools” campaign for Three Atlanta and CPA Global.

A young farmer/rancher burns some time after breakfast with a curious audience standing by. Part of a personal series featuring contemporary scenes in the South.

A young farmer/rancher burns some time after breakfast with a curious audience standing by. Part of a personal series featuring contemporary scenes in the South.

"Dirt Wave" motocross in the deep south. Part of a personal series featuring contemporary scenes in the South.

“Dirt Wave” motocross in the deep south. Part of a personal series featuring contemporary scenes in the South.

"Quail Hunting". Part of a personal series featuring contemporary scenes in the South.

“Quail Hunting”. Part of a personal series featuring contemporary scenes in the South.

"Fiddler Over Paris", a lone fiddler bares his soul to the denizens of the 7th arrondissement. Shot for an int'l travel company.

“Fiddler Over Paris”, a lone fiddler bares his soul to the denizens of the 7th arrondissement. Shot for an int’l travel company.

Pro bono series for my home town fire department. Hazmat crew takes one for the team as fire plane dumps it's payload.

Pro bono series for my home town fire department. Hazmat crew takes one for the team as fire plane dumps it’s payload.

"On The Way to Saturday". Campaign featuring college football mega-fans for BBDO.

“On The Way to Saturday”. Campaign featuring college football mega-fans for BBDO.

"Wrong Tools" campaign for Three Atlanta and CPA Global.

“Wrong Tools” campaign for Three Atlanta and CPA Global.

Campaign for Harley Davidson featuring real owners enjoying the thrill of the open road.

Campaign for Harley Davidson featuring real owners enjoying the thrill of the open road.

 "Lake of the Clouds Valley". Personal work captured on a trip to the high Rocky Mountains.


“Lake of the Clouds Valley”. Personal work captured on a trip to the high Rocky Mountains.

Firefighters photographed for South Magazine.

Firefighters photographed for South Magazine.

"We're there for you 24/7/365". Campaign for Georgia Power.

“We’re there for you 24/7/365″. Campaign for Georgia Power.

"For the longest lasting truck on the road". Campaign commissioned for Eaton Global.

“For the longest lasting truck on the road”. Campaign commissioned for Eaton Global.

Recent commission featuring speedo-clad mechanics to illustrate the client's heat generating product.

Recent commission featuring speedo-clad mechanics to illustrate the client’s heat generating product.

How many years have you been in business?
12 years.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
Both but I did the photo degree route. It was a good jumping board but, like most people, I learned more in just the 1st year working in San Francisco about the industry and my own work than I did during all of school.

Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
I was a skater kid in high school and a lackadaisical student, which took its toll on my studies. I took art classes because I thought they would be easy A’s. I connected with the creative arts immediately and felt myself come alive. Originally I wanted to be a sculptor and I worked diligently towards that goal but eventually I found myself sitting in a photography class. Seeing my first image appear in the developing tray was what set the hook. It’s a cliché’ sentiment at this point, but it was like magic. I was also exposed to the work of the great street photographers, especially the masters of composition and light; Cartier-Bresson and Harry Callahan among others. I worked at my local camera store talking with working photographers every day and developing their images late into the evening. It was an exhilarating feeling to see their work before they did and when talking with them about their assignments at pick up time, it became clear to me that this was the life I wanted. I was also able to work with Jim Erickson and Erik Almas through out my first year after school, which was also instrumental.

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?
It’s important to me to find inspiration from things other than photography whether that be other visual arts, travel, history, and simply conversing with people who are very different than myself. A lot of photographers choose to keep their exposure to other’s work at a minimal, I do the opposite. I look at an immense amount of images and I keep the ones that speak to me in an archive that goes back over 10 years. They cover the spectrum from photography, design, 3D, and fine arts and I often sift through them making mental notes of the things I like, don’t like, and want to experiment with before my next project.

Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
It varies widely from project to project but limitations can be a blessing. I’ve been studying film making lately and I read something from a feature director awhile back saying that often times he’ll limit himself to just one or two lenses for a whole movie because with every option available for every shot, it can be overwhelming and the images end up being too disjointed. I look at constraints that clients give in that way and it forces me to push my work and grow in a direction that I might not have taken on my own and I walk away with more tools in my creative arsenal.

What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
All the usual things but the most important to me is face-to-face exposure. The path of least resistance is always the most overrun and that right now is doing everything digitally. My reps are also paramount in connecting with buyers.

What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
Showing what you think buyers want to see is a loosing strategy if that’s your main motivation. Even if you’re scoring some projects, you won’t be shooting what you love and the work won’t be as affective as it should be. Ultimately, you’ll end up spending your career working on things that don’t inspire you and that’s not good for you or your clients.

Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
Not as much as I’d like, but I’m working on that. It takes the willingness to say no to paying projects usually but I think it’s a good investment for one’s creative soul. Story telling in still frame, painting, modeling, motion, and writing is always on my mind from when I wake up until I finally go to bed. Lately, I’ve been spending the majority of my non-working time learning 3D modeling which has been a very captivating creative outlet and has already helped land some of my favorite projects to date.

How often are you shooting new work?
It varies from every couple weeks to a month. I prefer to do my own post work whenever possible and if it’s a series of multi-image composites that typically turns a 3 day shoot into a 3 week process from beginning to end but it’s an integral part of what I love about my job and what makes the images I deliver to my clients unique and impactful.

—————–

John is an America photographer born and raised in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. His work is often described as rich, fresh, and authentic. Clients recognize his consistent vision and adamant drive to deliver impactful and affective images through a broad range of subjects.

John is honored to have been included in Luerzer’s Archive Top 200 Advertising Photographers Worldwide and his work has been recognized by PDN, Communication Arts, Hasselblad Masters, Int’l Photography Awards, Prix de la Photographie Paris, American Photographic Artists, Int’l Loupe Awards, and Color Awards. His clients include AT&T, Harley Davidson, Captain Morgan, Airstream, Westin and Hyatt Int’l among others.

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.

Do’s And Don’ts For Finding A Commercial Photography Agent

This guest re-post comes from Mark Winer at The Gren Group. The original post appeared here.

We’ve added some new talent to our roster recently, and with that often comes questions from photographers about how to find representation. So this is for you, the aspiring photographer searching for that perfect relationship with an agency representative. There is (as of this writing) no match.com for the photography industry – so we are are going to summon up 18 years of experience and give you the tools for your big search.

Rather than writing a long dissertation on the process of finding a rep, we’ve decided to give you a Cliffs Notes version – a handy, tried and true list to follow throughout your search. Please keep in mind this is aimed at photographers who are interested in working with agents who have mostly commercial clients. The TOP TEN Do’s and Don’ts below will vary based on your objective.

Here goes:

DO’S!

DO know that we get between 15 and 20 unique photographer requests each month. We may add just one new photographer a year, so you really need to stand out.
DO your research. Personalize your message to the rep you’re reaching out to and reference something worthwhile and specific. Find some common ground.
DO prove your business model. Show us that your own photography skills and marketing efforts have gotten you enough work where you need a business partner to help manage your growing business.
DO know thyself. What kind of photographer are you? Fashion? Lifestyle? Conceptual? Still Life? You should come to us already with a strong brand and self identity. We should be able to ‘know’ you in 90 seconds or less.
DO support the US Postal Service (before they close your branch)! Mail us samples of the great promos you’ve been sending to clients.
DO share your most recent commercial success stories – recognizable brands really get our attention. This is kind of a ‘what have you done lately’ business.
DO tell us about the industry trade shows you’ve attended and the Art Producers or Creative Directors you’ve met with recently. Feel free to name drop – we may have connections in common!
DO be respectful, appreciative and humble. A good personality goes a long way.
DO be patient and realistic. This is a relationship business. It can take years for the rep to build relationships with both clients and photographers.
DO have a reasonable advertising & promotion budget. Attracting the attention of ad agency clients, and building relationships with them, can require an extensive financial commitment.

DON’TS

DON’T email us generic comments like “new website!” or “just want to take my photography to the next level”. Be creative – include the whats, whens and whys. First impressions are important!
DON’T worry if we don’t get back to you right away. We make every effort to respond to all requests – which can sometimes take several days or weeks, depending on our workload.
DON’T be a beauty, fashion, conceptual or product photographer if you’re reaching out to us. Nothing personal, just not our area of expertise. Do your research first, and know the agent – there are plenty of great reps who market celebrity & automotive work.
DON’T be lazy. Success in this business requires a ton of ambition, passion, and a positive outlook. Enthusiasm is contagious – clients and reps can feed off your energy.
DON’T worry if most of the projects come from your leads in the first year or two. That’s to be expected. After all, you’ve been promoting your own commercial work for the last 5-10 years, and we’ve just gotten started.
DON’T send us a personal Facebook request after just one email. We’re big fans of social media, so show us you know the difference between networks like LinkedIn, Twitter, etc …
DON’T be a photographer with only personal, fine art or wedding work. It may be beautiful, but we are advertising assignment reps – the work must be commercially viable and contain high production value.
DON’T be a prima donna. Character is very important – we prefer humble, appreciative, collaborative and genuine.
DON’T get bogged down into thinking that you must have a rep to build your business! Plenty of great photographers have achieved commercial success without representation.
DON’T get frustrated if you have no luck getting a rep in the first few months (or years) of trying. Take that as a sign that you have to continue working harder and smarter to appeal to an agent.

Hope this helps a little. The right photographer/agent partnership can be a great thing – creative, challenging, lucrative, rewarding and fun. It’s also a lot like a marriage, whose success relies on mutual understanding, respect and communication. And like a marriage, know your partner well – maybe even consider living together for awhile first – the goal is to be together for a long time.

Good luck in your search!

Part Of Being A Great Photographer Is An Innate Gift For The Drive To Do It

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I think that part of this (being a great photographer) is an innate gift. I think that all artists, whatever the medium, have some genetic luck. That gives them the drive for whatever the talent is, painter, writer, musician, photographer. There’s something that’s deep within their soul.

I use to tell photographers that I believe great photographers, artists, whomever have a third eye. Many decades ago I was weaving and doing rugs I remember looking down at my hands and being in wonder of what they were doing. I’d say to myself, just stay out of their way. Get out of the way and let them do what they do. I think the same thing is true with photographers.

When they are really good it’s intuitive. This is what happens when they don’t over think it. That is what Bresson says.

via Karen Mullarkey – An Interview Part Two.

In The World We Find Ourselves In Today, Hard Work Isn’t Enough

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…you’d better understand how to deploy those design skills in a way that helps solve business problems for your clients.

…the select few who are going to thrive in the months and years to come are going to be the ones who can tell a complex story across a range of media in a simple, clear and elegant way.

via AIGA | Apple’s Creative Director Alan Dye on Why Great Design Skills Aren’t Enough.