Posts by: A Photo Editor

Getting Your Foot in the Door

- - Getting Hired

A reader asks if it’s better to approach the Associate or Deputy Photo Editors for a book showing or for sending promos because the Director is usually too busy.

I’d say targeting the photo editors under the Director is an excellent plan of action.

I’ve always encouraged all the photo editors in the department to look at as many books as possible to develop their eye for photography so they can experience the process of discovering new talent and then hiring them for a shoot.

In many cases it was easier for me to drop in on a portfolio showing; to look at the book, grab a promo, shake the hand and get out. That’s how I saw a lot of books and photographers I normally wouldn’t have time for with all the stupid meetings I went to everyday.

Eventually, I would get lobbied by the other photo editors to hire photographers they discovered and liked and we always ended up pulling the trigger on a few to see how their discoveries worked out.

And, don’t forget the Creative Director in your promo mailings. Many times they came into my office with the promo of a photographer they were interested in—just don’t leave me out of the loop. I always like to already know who they’re talking about when they bring those in so I look like I know what the hell I’m doing “ah, yes Irving Penn and I go waaay back, I’ll IM him.”

Larry Lessig’s Free Book

- - Blog News

The Future of Ideas’ now available for free (here). Somehow he convinced Random House to allow him to give it away on his website. Sheesh, next thing you know people will be paying me to read their book.

Via Boing Boing (here).

Nick Cobbing

- - Photographers

This photo story called “Surface Tension” (see it here) by Nick Cobbing submitted on Photo Rank (here) is the kind of thing that absolutely sings off the monitor. It doesn’t hurt that Nick has the perfect interface on his website for viewing a photo story (intuitive, simple and the controls disappear off the screen or hide in the corners). I can look at photos like this all day on my computer. Way to go Nick.

nick1.jpg

nick4.jpg

nick3.jpg

Ford Copyright Conundrum

- - Blog News

 Update: Clarification on what happened by Ford PR Department in the Comments.

Black Mustang Club members shoot pictures of their cars and make a calendar for sale on CafePress. Ford has the calender removed claiming all images are the property of ford. Stupid.

Via Adrants (here). Thanks for the tip Christopher.

A Couple Blogs I’m Reading

Thoughts of a Bohemian, first pointed out to me by Kim Taylor of 180mag.ca in the comments of a post, is written by Paul Melcher a stock industry veteran who happens to also be a bohemian, which I dig. He speaks my language as well. Here’s a good example on a post entitled “A Whale of a Story.

It is everyone’s understanding that the price of photography will continue to dip down. How soon and how fast, it is anyone’s guess. It would absolutely not surprise me if someone like Getty would take a deep plunge into bottom cheap imagery in order to get rid of any competition and clean the landscape, a bit like a whale plunges deep below to get rid of parasite fish, only to return to a new, stronger marketplace. Everyone knows that there is too much photography available, both in stock and editorial. It is time to force the medium and lesser photographers and agencies into a rapid bankruptcy in order to sanitize the offering.

Let me step back and explain: The market, currently, offers the false impression that anyone can make money in the photography field. Since it has become easy and cheap to enter, everyone and his brother is now either a photographer or a stock agent. Since there is no tangible market research on the size of our industry, $2 billion, $5 billion, $3000 billion, it is anyone guess on what the payout will be. If someone paid attention, I am sure that we would see that there has been more stock agencies of all type launched in the last five years then at anytime in its brief history. And it is only growing exponentially. More agencies, more photographers, more photographers, less relevant images. It seems that there is money to be made because of Microstocks and Flickr’s successes. And as much is there might be an increase in the number of images used in one year, there has not been an increase of revenue generated by this spike. It has been almost cancelled by the fall in pricing and Getty has been a witness to that.

The only way to really profit from that growth would be to get rid of the overflow of images. And the best way is to force as many people out of the market as possible, as quickly as possible.

A quick hit off the bottom could be exactly whats needed in this industry but I guess that depends on if you’re a whale or a parasite.

The other blog I’m checking out is called “The Business of Photography” and I discovered it over on Photo Rank (here) submitted by the author Ed McCulloch hisself. It’s sort of a “What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School” for the photo school kids and seems to be born out of the frustration of an education that doesn’t teach business to photographers (ridiculous).

Anyway, there’s plenty of advice for photographers floating around but I always like it when I see someone with talent giving it out. Ed is a name I’ve been familiar with for sometime because he knows how to market himself and he’s a good photographer, definitely someone worth listening to.

Dealing with the Famous Writer

- - Working

Pairing a photographer with a famous writer can be difficult, but in the end, an extremely rewarding experience. The “famous writers” are usually handled with kid gloves by the editors–“Sebastian’s not interested in going to Iraq for us but he pitched me something even better, about his grandmothers toenail clipping collection, she ferments it into whiskey,” “Ohhhhh, can he write it for this issue?” “I think thats our cover story,” “Goddam he’s good, this could win us an ASME.”–so, you have to be very careful negotiating this potential minefield. A report from the field or even after the assignment is over about the shit-head photographer you sent along will cause you much distress and it’s virtually impossible to defend against. What are you going to say, “Sebastian’s an asshole” because that gets you nowhere or even worse a reaction like “yeah but he’s very valuable to us so we can’t afford to have your photographer screw-up our relationship with him.”

This is where getting to know photographers on a personal level, comes in handy. Knowing a few photographers who are talented and easy going is exactly what you need in a situation like this. Whoa, hold on buddy… I know everyone aims to please so nobody is going to cop to being a difficult photographer but the problem, when it comes to writers is, in many cases, they’re working against you. They always interview the subject for longer than they should, leaving little time for the portraits, or they head off on some effing “wild goose chase” sucking up valuable photography time looking for additional material that may or may not materialize. It’s not as easy as you may think to be a nice guy and demand equal time with the subject or, egads more time than the writer.

Some of the more famous writers will have certain photographers they only work with and when you’re famous you pretty much get to dictate the terms of the assignment so why not demand who the photographer will be. Side-note: Many times the not-so-famous writers email over a list of photographers that is passed along from the editor with some sort of preamble about how they know this isn’t any of their business but here’s a list of photographers I like… just in case you we’re named Director of Photography by mistake.

In the end, when you make a great pairing and the photography that comes back from the assignment is amazing and then eventually you see the two of them shooting assignments for other magazines, for a moment, it feels like something you did lasts more than a month and that, is an incredibly rewarding feeling.