I think the thing that makes photographs most interesting, and which most fundamentally challenges any notion of a photographic language, is their total ambiguity.
Posts by: A Photo Editor
Professional Photographer Webcast Episode 7
Topic: Sustaining A Career In Photography
When: Today at 2:00 EST
Where: Here on aphotoeditor.com and Google +
Suzanne Sease and I will be joined by Commercial and Editorial Photographer Andy Anderson. Suzanne as you may know comes from the Art Buying side of the business with many years of experience working at Advertising Agencies. Andy is a well known Commercial and Editorial photographer with a career that would make most of us green with envy. Andy claims it’s “not rocket science” so we’ll talk with him about how relationships, small towns, personal projects, passion, DNA and the fundamentals of business all combine to put him at the top of the game.
If you have any questions you can email me before the webcast firstname.lastname@example.org (Note: you will remain anonymous on the webcast, I will not share your identity with anyone) or during the webcast you can ask them on Google+.
You can see our previous episodes over on the APE Google+ page (here).
Visit our show sponsor:
Suzanne Sease can be reached at:
Our special guest, Andy Anderson can be reached at:
We will both be in conversation at:
Photographers mentioned by Andy:
Most actors are hard to take good portraits of. You have access to the biggest actors and think, great, a chance to do an intimate portrait. Then you look at the contact sheet and you realize that they totally played you. They are aware of the camera in each single frame. They raise an eyebrow just so. They are very good at making it look natural, but then you look back and nothing is off-guard.
JR is amazing.
“The biggest problem facing curators and historians of photography,” Mr. Bajac said, “is the overflow of images.”
— Quentin Bajac, the Museum of Modern Art’s new chief curator of photography
Editor’s have to think beyond themselves. Their primary motivation has to be to help others grow, to tell stories and make systems work – outside of their egos. Editors have to be able to conceive of and communicate ideas that are about things outside themselves. Photographers, on the other hand, for the most part have to be so self involved that they can envelop what they photograph from a completely personal perspective. The more dimensional a person who makes pictures is, the more dimensional her photographs will be, the more they will connect with a subject. We are the photographs we make, they are us.
via APAD blog.
While it’s a magnificent outlet for all of us to share the way we see the world and all that, Instagram is mostly a gigantic contest to see who’s the best at being a lying liar pants. If you can make a dog look good in Mayfair, if you can make a sunset look like a Picasso when it’s doused in Brannan, all of a sudden, you’re a professional fucking photographer. And that’s really, really insulting to photographers.
I’m excited to be attending the Texas Photo Roundup this year to interview Andy Anderson about his career and moderate a panel on social media for photographers. Andy’s also leading a workshop if you want to get even more insight from him. Information below:
In Conversation: Andy Anderson and Rob Haggart
Saturday, March 1 / 10:30am – 12:00pm Location: Long Center Kodosky Donor Lounge Join Rob Haggart, award-winning photo editor and founder of popular photography blog APhotoEditor.com, and Andy Anderson, acclaimed commercial and editorial photographer, for a frank one-on-one conversation. Andy and Rob will talk about Andy’s career, how he got his start, the challenges he’s faced, how he stays true to his vision and more. Q&A to follow. REGISTER HERE Or purchase an All Access Pass to all the morning talks and presentations
Andy Anderson Workshop: Keeping your Personal Vision Under the Demands of a Commercial Market
Thursday, February 27 / 9-6pm Friday, February 28 / 9-5pm Location: Whitebox Studio REGISTER HERE Join commercial and editorial photographer Andy Anderson for a unique 2-day workshop. One of the hardest situations a photographer can experience is staying true to one’s own personal style in the face of a commercial assignment where photo editors, art directors or account planners are all focusing on their objectives for a shoot. Making sure you are not just taking orders from these people — but instead bringing your own personal style and vision to life in the context of the assignment — is the ultimate goal. This is what we will work together to achieve over the course of this workshop.
Social media is impacting our work in so many ways it’s hard to know how to pinpoint any single aspect of the changes that we’re experiencing. But fundamentally, everything has changed with the emergence of a visually sophisticated population that uses imagery as easily as conversation to exchange ideas and to express themselves.
Professional Photographer Webcast Episode 6
Topic: Using Social Media To Market Your Photography
When: Today at 2:00 EST
Where: Here on aphotoeditor.com and Google +
Suzanne Sease and I will be joined by Mat Szwajkos who is the Associate Director of Content Production at Possible. Suzanne as you may know comes from the Art Buying side of the business with many years of experience working at Advertising Agencies. Mat is a professional photographer who now works with brands on social media campaigns that are visual. He’ll help us understand how you can market your work to agencies with social media and how brands need influencers who can make great pictures.
If you have any questions you can email me before the webcast email@example.com (Note: you will remain anonymous on the webcast, I will not share your identity with anyone) or during the webcast you can ask them on Google+.
You can see our previous episodes over on the APE Google+ page (here).
Visit our show sponsor:
Social@Ogilvy’s ACD: Pro Photogs Are Key to Mobile Ads, Branded Content:
Link to the deck we talked about:
Webinar talking about the deck:
Social photographers mentioned by Mat:
“Every artist here has 5 year careers,” a dealer told me, “These galleries are plucking kids straight out of art school and forcing work out of them like a Chinese labor camp. The next thing you know: they’re not hot anymore. They reach the age of thirty and no one wants to work with them. This is why grad school got invented: to give ‘has-beens’ a thing to do.”
I’m reposting this from our sister blog Photography and Architecture, because I think Joshua Dool has such smart answers to the question Why do architectural photographers charge so much?
Blue Planet Aquarium, Copenhagen. Designed by Danish architects 3XN. All images © Joshua Dool
Joshua Dool is an award-winning architectural and industrial photographer based in Vancouver, Canada. Joshua was interested in both architecture and photography from a young age but photography won out. We wanted to hear about the skills required to properly photograph a building, the costs to the architect, and how a photographer can be creative in meeting budgets – he was kindly most forthcoming.
Q: What justifies the cost of strong architectural imagery?
JD: Photography isn’t much different than anything else. Fast and cheap doesn’t equal good. With architecture photography, it takes time to get the perfect angle and the perfect lighting, so the fast category doesn’t really even apply to it. So then, we are left with either cheap or good, and you probably aren’t going to get both.
My experience has been: the cheaper the photographer, the poorer the image looks, and in a society that is becoming increasingly visually literate, thanks to social media and the internet, fantastic photos are a must! Strong images strengthen a brand, weak images diminish a brand. This is true for all advertising, and it is especially true for architecture. Great projects deserve great photos to represent them, because at the end of the day, for the vast majority of an architect’s future clients, this will be the only way they ever get to interact with that design!
This doesn’t mean the more expensive the better, but it does mean that good imagery comes at a justified price. Half-rate images can make a fantastic project look crappy, and fantastic images can make an average project really stick out. The strength of the imagery is going to define whether the local paper or national magazine features it; it will affect how professional your website looks; it’s going to be the face of that project for awards consideration, and it’s going to determine whether the project images get onto social media which can generate A LOT of buzz and flow to your website.
Q: Why do architecture photographers charge so much, and what is associated with the cost?
JD: Several things are associated with producing professional images. In order to produce great architecture photos, you need a decent amount of gear, and a lot of knowledge specific to the field of architecture photography.
It takes time to scout locations, find angles, and map the sun through the course of the day in order to show up and capture great images on the day of production. Most shoots require one day of scouting, and one or two days of actual capture, but then the images are not ready out of the camera either, and can often take another one to three hours per photo in postproduction. So, there is a considerable time investment in photographing architecture properly.
Professional camera equipment and lighting is not cheap either. I arrive on a shoot with usually $20k+ worth of my own gear. I have pro-camera systems, tilt shift lenses, a few strobe kits, large reflectors, multiple tripods, and then a swath of gear at home for editing the photos in post production. It’s an incredibly expensive form of photography. And then, in order for me to hone my craft and get proficient at using all the cameras, lighting, and reflector systems I use, I’ve put my time in assisting other photographers, doing lighting on movie sets, and in photo school. Architecture photography is a very specialized form of photography, and isn’t something that just anyone can do, especially if you want quality results.
Q: Do you find that a lot of clients are suprised at the cost of photography?
JD: Price is often a big factor, especially for smaller/newer firms. I am cognizant of this, and I am always happy to try to meet a price point where I can in order to build a relationship with a new firm.
I’ve had a specific scenario happen a few times this last year, where a firm has contacted me requesting a quote for me to photograph several of their projects. After collecting bids from a few different photographers, they called me back to see if I could budge my rate, basically saying that they wanted me as their photographer, but at the other guy’s price. So, I did my best to make something work, but they ended up going for the cheapest quote they’d received. In both of these instances, they didn’t end up posting any of the photographs from the other photographer on their website because they were unhappy with the results.
It’s a common practice for newer, less experienced photographers to try to compete on price point instead of on quality of imagery. The truth is, in order to work at some of these cut-throat prices, these photographers have to be either jet-set trust fund kids who are doing it as a passion and not for the money, or they are photographers who don’t have the same level of expertise and quality of equipment, and who probably won’t be around in another year to photograph your next project. That is, if you would even want them to!
I’m a big fan of architecture so it saddens me to see great projects end up being captured poorly.
Q: Is there a way that architects can keep the costs down or operate within a budget?
JD: YES! There are a few ways:
They can let the photographer know the budget they are working with, and see if the photographer has any suggestions. Personally, the best way to lower the price for me is to book me for two or more projects, as I offer discounts to firms when they package together a few commissions.
Or perhaps the photographer has a month with nothing booked they could move the shoot to, and offer a reduced rate. Here in Vancouver, it rains from November to March, so I would be more inclined to offer a discount on an interior shoot if it took place in the months I’m not busy shooting exteriors in the sunshine!
Another way is to perhaps shave a couple images off the wishlist, and make it a one day shoot instead of a two or three day shoot. Would you rather have image 12 images that look great, or have all 18 and run the risk of the discount photographer messing it up?
Q: What gets you excited about architecture photography?
JD: I am especially intrigued by the human interaction with architecture. Architecture is after all designed for people. So I try to include a human element in my photographs. Early on, I noticed that most renderings the architects had included people, because this is how they sell the functionality of the design, but most photographs I was seeing were empty spaces devoid of human life. Being around great architecture is exciting, and seeing how structure are utilized, how they shape peoples daily experiences, and how they serve there intended purpose is one area I’m especially fascinated with in my photography.
Blue Planet Aquarium.
Peace Bridge, Calgary. Santiago Calatrava.
8 House, Copenhagen. Bjarke Ingels.
UBC Pharmaceutical, Vancouver. Saucier + Perrote.
Bella Sky Hotel, Copenhagen. 3XN.
still find that the pictures I connect to the most are the most subtle, the ones that ask more questions rather than give answers.
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 Brendan Meadows. I love the way his images show the drive and determination that young girls possess while still maintaining the light, fun spirit of youth. Fantastic work!
How many years have you been in business?
I’ve been in the industry now for just over a decade, but only started calling myself a photographer with conviction for the last four years.
Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I held my first camera at the age of ten and my first Polaroid was of Lady Diana at Expo 86. I still have that picture. I got my feet wet scholastically at Ryerson University taking darkroom and theory classes. It wasn’t until a fortuitous opportunity came along at Westside Studio to ‘first’ under Chris Gordaneer that things really began to take shape. I did almost three years there under his wing really learning the business, production and direction first hand. After that I kept my training going and started assisting with Frank W. Ockenfells III, Nigel Parry, Andrew Eccles and Kevin Lynch.
Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
Frank (fwo3.com) has and continues to be a constant source of drive and inspiration. At the beginning I was all over the place and trying to weave in between different arenas to stay versatile and fresh. My book was everywhere and filled with music, portrait, advertising, fashion and personal work…a nightmare to get in front of an art director or potential client. Some of the best advice he gave me early on was remove myself from thinking I was going to change the market in any regard. This was in Toronto at the time and he told me to create a book that was clean and on brand, the rest would come, but don’t think by pushing your vision that the work will come your way.
This was also at a time when I was unsure of my place in the industry. There was no money in music, didn’t want to stray into the fashion, advertising wasn’t my biggest draw and felt somewhat lost as to the direction I should be heading. Staying close to a classic portrait foundation was essential and wanted to still work with actors and musicians who brought something personal to the table. Staying inside the entertainment industry was a perfect fit and now my primary drive for work and finding new clients.
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 think that should come naturally to any artist. Motivations are a huge catalyst for any creative endeavor. You wake up, get out of bed each day and push yourself with the only a reward being reached once the project/piece has fully been realized. Getting noticed is part of the territory that falls into the tasks column of this profession and can sometimes cloud efforts I find.
Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
Not at this point in my career. The biggest struggle I have with clients at present is primarily budgetary. They go through my book with big eyes and seem frustrated they cannot get this look for a quarter of the budget.
I got a call from an East coast record label this year and he said to me; ‘We hear you’re the guy to call when we want an amazing shoot with zero money.” Flattering and insulting at the same time. And yes I bust my ass for every production and have done so since the beginning…..some of that has crossed over from the start and I still look at every opportunity to be shooting as a gift. It’s very lucky to love what you do. Maybe it’s a Canadian thing because we’re all peppered with a little production, post-production, lighting and skill sets that we have had to earn along the journey to get into that professional realm. You’re getting the full combo package having me on set.
What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
Always looked at traditional means of exposure from the other side of the river bank. I could not really afford to get my work into annual submissions and thought staying original was a better means of getting noticed.
The first of which was an event I created and co-founded called Drawn to Develop. It worked directly with Street Kids International who supplied drawings from street kids around the world that I then allocated to the best Canadian photographers working at that time who had to render the drawing into a finished photographic piece that we auctioned off at a gala event in Toronto during the fall of 2008. It did 4 strong years and has raised over $140,000 for Street Kids International since its conception. That gained a ton of attention due the ambitious amount of work involved and curious nature of the project.
“Who are you exactly?” Got that a lot of that, but getting Floria Sigismondi to create an image from a drawing was worth every hang up.
From there I did a few curated shows; tried to stay relevant as best I could before moving out to Vancouver in the fall of 2010. Then I went back to square one on the ol’ rolodex and the phone went from ringing every once in a while to almost never.
Covet was started to make my presence known in Vancouver. It was also me throwing a wrench into a photographer’s inspiration to see what comes up. Bring 30 photographers to the mix who supply a subject and location that they themselves hold dear. At random each of us chose from the two groups and went out and created an original piece for the show. Did that two years in a row, got on the map and earned the attention of one of my biggest clients of my career.
Is there a formula for any of it? Not a chance. Everything I do inside the professional circuit is based upon working hard and knowing that there is someone younger and hungrier out there behind me.
What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
Eventually these efforts will run themselves short and just be in vain. Staying true to you audience and finding your stride is key. With the tireless dedication this craft demands it crucial to make your efforts worthwhile and garnish a return.
Would you plant a garden for your neighbors?
Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
Constantly. My ambitious cup is always brimming over with ideas and creative ventures. Have been slowing down the project scopes as of late and asking myself more questions than just running out into the night with a burning spear, full of rum and generally running amok as I did in my 20’s. Trying to embrace a fully realized project from conception to hanging have become important lately, while still keeping content and intention at hand.
Having my commercial work grow into what I’m now showing now is starting to allow those questions relevance.
I’ve been failing upward for years and am really excited for the next couple of years.
How often are you shooting new work?
As often as possible.
I’m just now getting serious with all the extra work I shot this year and getting ready to rotate the portfolio, the website and putting together a small promo from some recent time in Japan.
Brendan Meadows is a photographer based in Vancouver, Canada.
He began his professional training at Westside Studio in Toronto. Today, after a decade of experience in advertising, publicity, editorial, music and portrait photography, Brendan has developed into a versatile professional, known for his ability to comfortably weave through many different arenas. His professional travels have taken him from the Swiss Alps, to the Arizona desert, to the high Arctic and the Caribbean, shooting everywhere from grand hotels to gritty slums.
The dominant thread in Brendan’s signature style is his strong interest in photographing people. He considers this focus to be his greatest strength and concentrates the bulk of his creative efforts towards creating images that celebrate all aspects of humanity. Brendan has produced pictures that brim with conviction, demonstrating a vision that is both raw and precise.
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.
For me, pictures like this are so troubling because they ask core questions about the contradictory nature of photography. On the one hand, the photo is a tremendously disturbing representation of evil and chaos. On the other, it is such a perfect and unique example of this evil that it transcends the constant, predictable, numbing pictorial representations of equal or greater violence that usually just slip away unseen. These are such troubling thoughts to think. Ten years ago, I would have felt some of the violence before I could acknowledge my respect for the photograph. Now I feel them both simultaneously. Perhaps that’s the great achievement of the photograph. But what do I know anymore? I guess I’m in too deep.
—Peter van Agtmael
I believe, when done right with a little luck/good timing thrown in, portfolio reviews can be very beneficial to photographers. I joined the Board of Directors at the non-profit Center in Santa Fe (full disclosure) over a year ago and have really enjoyed getting to know the people behind it and the inner workings of the portfolio review they put on called, Review Santa Fe. I took the opportunity of their annual call for entries to interview the Executive Director, Laura Pressley. She brings together a very high level group of Gallerists, Curators, Photo Editors, Book Publisher and Photographers annually for the event, which is no easy task. What’s always impressed me more is her ability to network, forge relationships and engage a group of people who have zero time for anything extra. Ask any additional questions you have in the comments.
Give me a little bit of your background and how you got started working with CENTER?
I’m from Chicago, received a BFA from the College of Santa Fe. After I graduated, I moved to the San Francisco area and worked at the Richmond Art Center where I witnessed the transformative effects of public art and community based art projects on families and cities. I felt myself align with the ethos of art service organizations and the public sector.
When I came back to New Mexico in 2000, I got involved with PhotoArts Santa Fe, a city-wide celebration of the medium. Through the event, I met the Director of the Santa Fe Center for Visual Arts (our old moniker) and was later recruited to be their Programs Coordinator after their success of the first Review Santa Fe. I have been here ever since. The name of the organization and the programming keep evolving, but the organization has maintained a sincere purpose and campfire quality that has been there since the beginning.
You are in the middle of your call for entries, tell me about the programs you have this year?
Yes! The call for entries (http://www.visitcenter.org/callforentries) is targeted to photographers who are looking for support and exposure opportunities. The award recipients receive a professional development package including online and traditional exhibiting platforms. This is not a “contest” but rather an opportunity to work with an art service organization in expanding your reach.
PROJECT LAUNCH (http://www.visitcenter.org/competitions/overview/project_launch_2014) is a grant for documentary, journalistic or fine art projects with a $5,000 cash award, two exhibitions with one during Review Santa Fe and the other at the Colorado Photographic Arts Center later in the year, also publication in Lenscratch, invitation to Art Photo Index and more. The Selection Committee is Fred & Laura Ruth Bidwell, Bidwell Projects & Transformer Station; Roger Watson, Curator, Fox Talbot Museum; and Patrick Witty, International Picture Editor, TIME magazine. Deadline: January 22, 2014
PROJECT DEVELOPMENT (http://www.visitcenter.org/competitions/overview/project_development_grant_2014) is a grant for works-in-progress for documentary, journalistic or fine art projects with a $5,000 cash award, two exhibitions with one during Review Santa Fe and the other at the Colorado Photographic Arts Center later in the year, also publication in Lenscratch, invitation to Art Photo Index and more. Juror: Lisa Hostetler, Curator, George Eastman House, formerly Curator at the Smithsonian Museum. Deadline: March 12, 2014
THE CHOICE AWARDS (http://www.visitcenter.org/competitions/overview/choice_awards_2014) are in three categories Curator’s, Editor’s or Gallerist’s Choice and you can choose to enter 1, 2, or 3 of the categories for your work. The recipients are featured in the Award winners exhibition at Center for Contemporary Arts during Review Santa Fe. They also receive complimentary participation in Review Santa Fe, Lenscratch publication, invitation to Art Photo Index and more. The jurors are Curator’s Choice – Malcolm Daniel, Curator in Charge, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX formerly Curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Editor’s Choice – Cheryl Newman, Director of Photography, The Telegraph, England; and Gallerist’s Choice – Steffi Schulze, Gallery Management, Camera Work, Germany.
REVIEW SANTA FE (http://www.visitcenter.org/reviews/overview/review_santa_fe_2014) is a juried portfolio review event and conference scheduled for June 26-29, 2014 in Santa Fe, NM. Review Santa Fe is designed for photographers to get their work seen by those that can help them achieve maximum impact. Scholarships and payment plans are available for photographers upon acceptance. Deadline: January 22, 2014
I see portfolio reviews popping up all over the place, tell me what separates Review Santa Fe from the rest of what’s out there for photographers to attend?
Review Santa Fe has changed the course of many photographers careers with dozens of actual outcomes every year. The juried component elevates the experience for all involved as it attracts not only committed photographers but also reviewers from high distributions magazines and high profile museums who don’t go to other reviews. The reviewers talk amongst each other giving CENTER’s reviews high marks. Many have stated that it is the best review they ever attended.
I just sent out our e-news yesterday with part of a testimonial from Alec Soth, here is the whole thing (from 2005): “A few years ago I felt stuck. I’d completed a project and received some attention in my hometown but I had no idea how to get the work out nationally. Out of the blue I was nominated for the Santa Fe Prize. The award and the attention were terrific, but the real prize was the review experience. The exposure to prestigious professionals and fantastic fellow photographers gave me access to an invaluable national network. It didn’t take long for this experience to reap huge rewards. Within a year of my experience at Review Santa Fe, I had a solo exhibition in New York, a book contract and was invited to participate in the Whitney Biennial.”
I do a lot of the research on who is using photography well and paying. Our reputation and our alumni have allowed me to cultivate key relationship with those picture professionals. At Review Santa Fe, you may have opportunity to meet with someone who can add your work to our nation’s archive in the Library of Congress. In one day it’s very possible you could meet with decision-makers from The Library of Congress, the Whitney, the Getty, TIME magazine, The New Yorker and many others who are looking for content. So, there’s fertile ground at Review Santa Fe that attracts not only some of the best reviewers and photographers.
Our alumni list is hot, hot, hot with editorial and fine art photographers – Alec Soth, Chris Jordan, Julie Blackmon, Hank Willis Thomas, Brian Ulrich, Tamas Dezso, Cristina de Middel, Carolyn Drake and Ben Lowy…the list goes on and on.
If I’m a photographer thinking about going to a portfolio review tell me how should I evaluate what’s available and how do I know I’m ready for one?
Regional reviews at your local photo art centers are great for getting feedback on a work-in-progress. It’s actually quite nice for reviewers to know that there is no expectation and allows for a really authentic and engaging conversation that can lead to insights and next steps. The more national and international reviews, you are ready when you have a cohesive body of work within a polished presentation that may be relevant to a broader audience. It doesn’t have to be fully completed but having a resolved concept and direction and being able to communicate clearly what the work is about is important.
In terms of criteria, I would evaluate the organizations track record and, if you can, ask a reviewer to speak candidly about their experience at an event. The most important thing are the reviewers attending. Ask yourself, are there reviewers on the roster that you want to meet? If so, are they accessible in other ways? You want to try to use that opportunity to meet with people you could not otherwise.
Also, many of us are becoming conscious consumers. There is a critical difference in the priorities of a non-profit art service organizations and other types of businesses. We are accountable to all of our attendees, as well as donors, the city, the state and sometimes the federal government. I have a responsibility to have actual outcomes in my programs and for our attendees to have worthwhile experiences. I would look to see if the program is aligned with a mission-based organization as that instills a level of trust and mutual investment. Essentially, non-profit organizations are for photographers, not for profit. On that note, another important question: are there scholarships or payment plans?
What advice can you give specifically with regards to Review Santa Fe?
– When in doubt submit the edgier series.
– Bring two or more projects with you to the event.
– Submit fewer images, and the tighter edit (you will be judged by your weakest, not your strongest image).
– Pay attention to your sequencing, make it like an album. When it doubt, have a strong #1, #4, and other signature pieces sprinkled evenly throughout the series. End strong.
– In your reviews, realize that you, as storyteller, are as important as the work, in building key relationships. In other words, your bedside manner is very important.
What can people expect to get out of the event? I heard from someone who had great reviews last year but they were frustrated because 3 months later nobody had responded to any of the follow up including yourself. Then in another 3 months a big magazine is publishing a portfolio of their work, so they are relieved obviously, but there was a long period where they were not happy about the time and money spent on attending and the lack of response afterwards. I know it can feel real chummy at the event, but then everyone goes back to work and reality. Can you comment on that?
Given the work is strong, it all comes down to patience. There is a lot of content needed these days for hungry image consumers. I tell a story during Review Santa Fe orientation about a three time alumni who showed her black and white images of bumblebees back in 2006. It didn’t get published until 2010 from a publisher she met at the event. That was when bees were on everyone’s radar because they were disappearing and made the news. Sometimes the reviewer is waiting for the right moment, when the audience is ripe. Editors are managing a bunch of assignments and don’t have time to take a moment to tell you that the timing isn’t right yet.
In terms of my experience, which is also reflective of some reviewers, emails that are non-urgent may wait a season or longer to be addressed. I know it’s almost absurd, that amount of time. The thing is that I love talking to photographers and this particular one, I eventually communicated when I was able to properly engage with her. If I just wrote back “be patient” and explained editors and others heavy work loads, would that have helped any? That discussion needed to be within a context of a sincere conversation that is specific to each individual at a particular moment in the life of their projects and careers.
I see that photographers get discouraged and that’s hard especially when some of their fellow reviewees seemingly get recognition right away. This year within several weeks of the event, we had two photographers on the Wired blog, one on the Smithsonian blog, two others on the New York Times Lens Blog, and a gallery exhibition. The thing is that you don’t know how long each individual has been working on their projects prior to that recognition, and how many times they tried to get the work out prior to the event, if they have an established connection to the reviewer and perhaps Review Santa Fe was that impetus to finally show the work. Each story is different.
But absolutely stay in touch. What prompted me to finally write back was that particular photographer’s holiday card made me laugh. Please keep in mind that once you put the work out there it is not on your time frames or your needs anymore – it is on the magazine, the gallery, the business, or the organization’s schedule. Since they are the ones you are hoping to work with you have to trust their judgement and trust that they are savvy business people who know when the moment is right.
What you can expect is to get your work in front of people who have the power to distribute it to a broad audience. You can expect to be around a group of people all working at a high level and who are dialed into the field. You can expect to make friends you may have for years. You can expect reviewers to be mutually invested in looking at new work. You can expect that although they may not write back in a timely fashion, they will remember your work and reach out when the time is right.
CENTER is celebrating its 20th anniversary, do you have anything special planned?
Sure do. It includes expansion into the central downtown Santa Fe outdoor venue location (the Railyard) and projections of the 2014 photographers works during the simultaneous international multi-media festival called Currents. This parallel festival has a series of programs and installations happening along with evening events with DJs and projections that our participants and encouraged to attend. Its all right down the street from our new location, the Hotel Santa Fe. We are also hosting a Saturday night Fundraising Gala with the Center for Contemporary Arts who are celebrating their 35th anniversary and the Santa Fe Workshops attendees are also invited to the gala as they are celebrating their 25th anniversary this year.
Plus, the 100 participating photographers will be invited to give artists presentations scheduled throughout the weekend at the Center for Contemporary Arts. We will have two of our high profile alumni – Julie Blackmon and Phil Toledano – to give evening presentations. There’s more planned but basically its going to be non-stop forward momentum infused with some fun.
I want to create a couple resource pages for photographers with your opinion about the various services in the comments. If you are game for it I’d like to start with printing mailers.
A great resource for looking at mailers and promos is the blog No Plastic Sleeves: blog.noplasticsleeves.com
You can also visit many of the agent sites on our Agent List and they will many times show promos on their blog (just click the rss feed icon on the listing to visit an agents blog directly).
Wonderful machine has an excellent resource page where they list lots of companies under Printing – Business Cards & Mailers.
Agency Access “does a great job, quality is a bit better and a bit pricier”
Paper Chase Printing In LA “does a really good job”
PsPrint “been using them for years and they do nice work”
4by6 “really great printing quality and paper. their color has been incredibly accurate too”
With every conflict it is very difficult to show the enormity of the suffering. You have all these statistics, 4.5 million people killed, 30,000 women raped. To get through to people you have to show individuals touched by the conflict. Thats how you engage people, how you shock them to maybe change their behavior. I want to repeat, though: Its difficult for photographs to do this work on their own. You need an advocacy group to partner with who can knock on the doors of Congress and corporations. This advocacy work is as satisfying to me as taking a photograph.