Albert Watson has a new website (here) at least I think it’s fairly new, last time I checked was a year ago when I tried to hire him and felt like a fool for leaving urgent messages for a very last minute cover, then of course when I finally got his wife on the phone he’s in Europe for a month and booked on jobs as far as the eye can see. Nevertheless Jodi @ RS told me he’s an incredible sweet-heart and still works harder then an art school grad on their first assignment so I thought what the hell I’ll see if he’s up for it. The first portfolio on the website has 186 images in it. Not recommended that any art school grads try and pull that off.
I was planning on spending some time looking at the Orphan Works Bill eventually but it appears that I may have missed the boat. Here’s a notice I received this morning:
UPDATE: It appears that the ASMP and PPA are in favor of the bill. Here’s a quote from an email I just received “Making a decision to support any Orphan Works Bill isn’t easy. However, both PPA and ASMP, the only two organizations representing photographers that have actively participated in these discussions, have determined that opposing the proposed House bill would place photographers at greater risk. We believe that supporting the House bill will prevent us from ending up with a law that is far worse.” Visit the ASMP (here).
Here’s the email from the APA:
BREAKING NEWS, May 7, 2008 – The House is meeting today 2:00 p.m. Wednesday, May 7, 2008, 2141 Rayburn House Office Building markup of H.R. 5889, the “Orphan Works Act of 2008″
This means that if you oppose the House Bill as it stands, it is extremely important to make your voice heard before that meeting begins.
At this time, it is understood that the House believes that photographers and other visual artists including their trade associations are in agreement with the current bills. APA opposes both the House and Senate bills as written.
Please take a moment to be heard via a prepared letter of your choice, or by including your own reasoned thoughts in a professional courteous manner.
This link (here) will allow you to be heard.
Scroll down about half way to see “For Photographers”.
It is important to be heard. It is your future.
ORPHAN WORKS LEGISLATION IS BACK!
APA’s Position on the Orphan Works Act of 2008
From the onset, APA has been actively engaged in the effort to help solve the orphan works dilemma. We made public our support for the crafting of an amendment that would permit use of verified, i.e. true, orphaned works for certain uses, by way of procedures that are clearly defined in the statute or regulations, while retaining remedies for use by copyright owners in the event of abuse.
APA, in seeking to represent the best interests of its members, takes the position that the legislation offered in both bills — S.2913 and H.R.5889 — does not achieve the goal as we believe was originally intended, and instead provides a distinct road map for the infringement of contemporary works by living artists worldwide. If left unchanged, this legislation has the potential to destroy the businesses and livelihoods of thousands of photographers, other visual artists, as well as the collateral small businesses that serve the industry, and are dependent on, creators.
Therefore, APA is asking its members and all concerned individuals to take action by writing your members of Congress to voice your concerns. PLEASE go to this resource page on Orphan Works for sample letters (scroll down for the photographers’ letters) and the ability to automatically contact your specific members of Congress. Great thanks to the Illustrators’ Partnership for making this site available.
The full text of is available as a pdf download (here).
And both the House and Senate versions of the bill are available as pdf downloads on the APANational.com homepage here
Be informed. Be involved.
APA National CEO
APA National President
Not me personally so let me explain.
The National Magazine Awards were last Thursday (here) and the big winners for photography were Gourmet (overall photography), National Geographic (photojournalism) and Vanity Fair (photo essay). I’ll also include Wired who won for design in this group of Ellie (the statue) bastard children because you see the National Magazine Awards are put on by the American Society of Magazine Editors. Yeah, Editors. Up until 2004 there was only one award for photography and then I guess they decided the photography might have something to do with the success of magazines and added photo essay and then photojournalism last year. It’s their award so I guess they can do whatever the hell they want. The only thing I find obnoxious is the editor going up on stage to collect the awards for design and photography.
Now, this Friday we have the SPD awards given by the Society of Publication Designers (here). Yeah, Designers. This is another gala affair where the winners are announced and in the categories where photography is concerned the Creative Director or Design Director will go up on stage and collect the award for you. Not as bad since we work closely with the design department and certainly their contribution to the layout of the photography makes a huge difference. But, if you think photography not surrounded by great design and typography will win an award, think again.
What I should be writing about today is the award ceremony tomorrow night (in between the two so, the Wired photo eds can spend the week in NYC) put on by some society of picture editors where nominations were made and envelopes will be opened announcing the winners of the best covers, portraits, still-lives, photojournalism, fashion, fine art and lifestyle that magazines published last year.
I know we’ve got the PDN Photo Annual and the American Photography book but I’ll be honest with you, I’ve sent a few all staff announcements about landing photography in those books and it’s just not as impressive as WINNING something (“we were selected”). There’s also the Lucie awards but I’m pretty sure that’s just photography in general and more along the lines of lifetime achievement, judging from the ages of the recipients.
So, here’s why I have such an enormous problem with the lack of awards for magazine photography. Awards actually make magazines better. It balances out the commercial pressures and gives you extra incentive to do things you wouldn’t normally do. These awards are incredible resume builders for photo editors and marketing tools for publishers. I’ve put my neck on the line a number of times because I knew the results would not only be great but also might bring in an award or two. An award for Photo Editing would also reinforce what we already know, “the success of certain magazines with advertisers and consumers is directly tied to the quality of the photography.” The CFO needs to know that.
In general pitching stories, that aren’t photo essays, to the Photo Editor is not a bad idea. Everyone on staff at a magazine can contribute to the line-up so the Photo Editor can get something made if they’re in the mood to take it to the right people and make sure something gets done about it.
Here’s a little hint though: The absolute fastest way for photographers to get a story made is to approach a writer that the magazine uses on a regular basis (don’t ask front of book writers if you’re pitching a feature story for chrissake’s) and if they’re interested in your idea ask them to pitch their editor. You’d be surprised how many good writers are looking for good ideas. I’m assuming your idea doesn’t suck, not always the easiest for people to determine on their own.
Let me just repeat something that’s very important here, find a writer that the magazine already uses or would be interested in using. There is no better way to kill a good story idea you may have than to attach a writer nobody wants in the magazine. You’d also be surprised how often this happens.
Now, if you want to go through the Photo Editor there are three ways this can shake out, in order of effectiveness:
1. The Photo Editor passes along your email to the appropriate department head and lets them respond if they want to.
2. The PE will follow up with the section or features editor to see if there’s interest and act as a go between with the photographer.
3. The PE will help craft the pitch and take it directly to the Editor or pitch meeting and try to get a green light for the idea. Depending on the magazine, if there’s interest in the story it will usually get sent back for clarification on certain points the Editor is concerned with or a writer who the magazine likes working with will be sought before a green light is given. This is the deadly yellow light and can cause stories to hang in limbo for months or even years.
It can really add to your workload as a Photo Editor to start pitching story ideas but it’s also extremely gratifying to see something go from a pitch to printed pages and I’ve alway found it to be some of my most memorable work.
I consider myself a pretty good stock researcher. Mostly because I’ve done so much of it and partially because I like doing it (exceptions here and here). This is what I think makes someone good at stock research: The ability to identify great images as thumbnails, a massive list of agencies to search (here’s mine), persistence and keyword zen.
Keyword zen is the most important part.
The majority of searches begin with a laundry list of different places and things and people and events and activities that I need to find images for. To make it easier I break that down into a list of keywords I want to search, so knowing what makes a good keyword is critical.
Ok, this is the least helpful part of this post: I don’t really know how to explain what makes a good keyword, because it’s like talking wookie, it’s a special stock researcher language all it’s own and until you get in there and do it for a bit and experiment you can’t possible know the structure of a good keyword sentence.
Ok, this might be helpful: A good trick I’ve learned is to just drop in and browse (I call this trolling… as in trolling for sharks) with a couple keywords then when you find an photo you like, check and see what keywords they’re using and use those to head down that path to see where it leads. Another technique I use is to start with the most constrictive set of keywords first (zero hits is the goal) and then start backing out till the results are too much then head back in to the sweet spot and do a search.
The weirdest trick I’ve ever discovered was several years ago when I was looking for a photo that I swear didn’t exist (at least in any semi-publishable form) and was getting nowhere fast so I decided to try misspelling the words. It was like unlocking a secret door and discovering a room full or abandoned pictures, gathering dust, just sitting there waiting to be discovered wondering why nobody ever visits. At 11pm in an empty office in the middle of midtown Manhattan it’s feels like you’ve fallen down a rabbit hole.
125 blank pages of edit with an additional 85 pages of ads (yeah, it’s a dream but we still gotta turn a profit).
A line-up with a wide mix of interesting subjects to assign: far away places, inspiring people, beautiful objects, crazy ideas, elite sport, humor, conflict, mystery.
Complete autonomy with the selection of photographers and final images.
An unlimited budget to get it done (not because I want to spend stacks of cash just because I don’t want to think about the budget when it comes to approach on a subject).
I’ll shoot everything except events, action and landscapes. I like to use pick-up for action and landscape because they’re so condition and weather dependent, but I’ll shoot it if there’s nothing available that I like.
Working as a Photography Director means the decisions about who I hire will be heavily influenced by 3 important groups of people (since I have autonomy from co-workers in this dream): the competition, the audience and the advertisers. Thinking about this bigger picture and articulating to everyone how our photography serves those groups is a big part of my job.
When I look at the competition the first thing I always do is identify their core group of photographers and try to stay away from hiring within that group. If I want to bump someone out of their group I can hire them on a regular basis and usually the competition will stop using them (that is unless they don’t consider my magazine competition). I’ll also think about their overall use of photography and come up with way to differentiate what we’re offering the advertisers and audience. If they use heavy lighting and conceptual images to get ideas across I’ll try for more available light and real subjects as a marked contrast when we cover the same subject. This is even more important on the newsstand where I firmly believe in hiring a couple photographers to shoot all the covers to create a distinct style that readers can pick-up on month after month.
I have a couple goals when it comes to hiring photographers with the advertisers in mind. First, create an environment where they want to be seen. This can involve hiring photographers out of the same pool of talent they draw from and when possible, using those photographers in a way, because of client constraints, they can’t. Next, I feel it’s important to challenge the aesthetics of the advertisers in some of the shoots you commission. If advertisers wanted to hang out with a bunch of sycophants they would just make their own magazine. Including challenging or controversial photography in the mix ensures that advertisers understand you know your audience better than they do and you’re willing to do things they wouldn’t to reach them.
The number one goal with the audience is to present a range of photography styles that will keep them engaged, entertained, challenged and provide fresh entry points into the stories. I think it’s a huge mistake to do to much of any one style of photography so keeping the mix lively is a priority for me. For the average reader presenting challenging imagery over and over turns reading your magazine into homework and needs to be balanced out with pictures that entertain and surprise.
Now, keeping all those factors in mind I can begin to make assignments for the issue. The story mix is never ideal so pieces that would normally have a similar approach running in the same issue need divergent styles from within a genre to avoid repetition.
So, there you have it, the brass ring that photo editors everywhere reach for every month, the perfect mix. Throw in budgetary constraints. overbearing owner, a late breaking assignment, stories suddenly dropping out or any number of curve balls and you’ve got a real mess to figure out. The amazing thing is that I’ve come close to grabbing that ring several times in my career. It always keeps you coming back for more.
Unsolicited guest post from:
Deborah Dragon, Deputy Photo Editor at Rolling Stone.
The other day I received a “follow up” phone call from a photographer thanking me for checking out their site and mentioning that they were really interested in working with the magazine and since I was “interested” in their work, could we set up a meeting. I thought “did I click on something” or sometimes I see work that I like and send an email saying so and to let me know when they update their site again. This was not the case, so I googled their name, went on their site and couldn’t understand what happened, because this persons work was completely inappropriate for the magazine.
So, what ever happened to people sending or emailing appropriate mailers to magazines? I would think with the capability of tracking emails and clicks on sites, there would be the possibility of organizing these things better. I get about 150 emails a day from photographers and reps, yes, 150 emails JUST FROM PHOTOG’S and REPS, 50% of them are lifestyle and food. My goal is to visit EACH ONE…HMMM I can’t imagine why photo editors aren’t seeing peoples work. Maybe if the photographers all got together and agreed to STOP loading PE’s email boxes with giant attachments and/or links to images that are not suitable for the publication I could actually achieve my goal. Save your valuable time and figure out what magazines you really want to shoot for, then start shooting.
And, most importantly if you ask me, if I see your work, I like it, and I like it for the magazine… believe me, you will know it and I will contact you. You don’t need to follow up with my clicking on your website.
There are only 4 things to consider when looking to hire a photographer.
Ok, there’s actually a fifth that’s like a recommendation or an impression we have of you and informs us what it will be like to work with you but I’m leaving that out of this discussion.
When making an assignment several of these variables may be locked down. If the budget is low then the weight of the decision goes to price and certainly location because that can be a big factor in the cost of a shoot. The genre can be wide or narrow depending on how much you want to leave open to chance and interpretation. Color, shoots men or conversely photo journalist specializing in domestic abuse, portraitist who works with older women. And, you either assign stories that match Genre’s or do the opposite to create something interesting (assigning fashion stories to photojournalists and sending fashion photographers to war zones… ok that last one’s probably not a great idea). The style further breaks down the genre into subgroups of similar looking photographs and derivatives and maybe even a few that don’t really fit anywhere.
For most photographers the Genre and Location are locked down and the price is a function of how busy/new you are. That leaves style as the most important factor in how we find and hire you.
Are you leading, following, pioneering or just pain unsure where you stand?
I’ve heard from a couple people (most recently Andy Anderson) that there’s a scam going around where someone will email a photographer with a 10 day shoot overseas and then ask them to pay half of a work permit to guarantee they will show up for the job. It’s more involved then that with phone calls to a real person supposedly looking to hire a photographer but the idea is to get you to pay the fee. Drop a comment if you’ve had a similar request.
Update: Another version of the scam from the comments.
Another variation is an offer of a shoot in your local area, where they will send a deposit or offer the full fee, where you would keep half the fee if the shoot is canceled. The shoot would then be canceled and they would ask that the half be returned. The original check was bogus and will bounce in about 45 days, but because of a kink in the banking system it appears to have gone through during that time. If you send the refund, you will be out that amount when the check clearing system finally runs its course and debits the bogus check amount.
I haven’t experienced this one, but a few months ago I was nearly scammed on a fine-art print order… a good sized print order came in through my website – a week later I received a cashiers check for almost double the amount of my invoice. The “client” wrote to explain that they were moving and her husband mistakenly included the shippers’ fee in my check… could I please wire the difference to the shipper so they could get started. I was totally suspicious but when the check cleared I was more convinced that it was an honest error. Just to make sure I checked with my bank and indeed, while they made the funds available, it can take up to 2 weeks for a check to clear. Sure enough, 10 days later all the money was deducted from my account. Luckily, all I lost was some time.
If you’re a Photo Editor, Art Buyer, Art Director, Director of Photography, Creative Director or Agent I will help you install wordpress for free. The only cost will be around $9/year to register your domain name and the $8/month hosting fee. You can even do it anonymously if you like.
Here’s what you need to do to make it happen. Register a website name. I use namesecure.com but if it needs to be anonymous you’ll have to use godaddy.com which is a little tricky because they keep trying to sell you shit as you buy the name. For both registrants just skip all the extras they try and sell you and change the registration term to 1 year (or longer if you don’t want to renew every year) but on the godaddy registration choose the deluxe registration which includes the privacy so nobody can see who registered the name.
Next you have to find a host for your wordpress blog. I use bluehost.com but I hear mediatemple.net ($20/month) is pretty nice. I had a big problem with my host when I had people vote for a photographer to receive the free consultation because they put a load limiter on everyone’s account and mine maxed out and kept shutting down. Curiously the next day the CEO of bluehost.com announced they were increasing the amount of traffic a website can receive, so we’ll have to see if they fixed the problem when I do something that will drive heavy traffic like that.
Once you get a host I’ll tell you how to point your domain there and then I will need to access your account to upload the wordpress blog. Make sure you use a password that you can change once I’ve done all I need to set it up. Hopefully I can get a bunch of new industry blogs started this way.
Email me to get started: rob(at)aphotoeditor.com
I thought I’d air this place out a bit and offer a little transparency in an attempt to move the conversations we have here on to the next chapter. I’m sensing a vibe of suspicion among a couple readers and commenter’s and I’ll offer a little transparency in an attempt to clear the air and make things right. I’ve tried to avoid writing about what I do for a living, what my plans are and in general not turn this into a place where I solicit work but I think that can sometimes make people suspicious of my motivations for doing all this work in the first place. I’ll be very clear, I wouldn’t do this if I thought it wouldn’t lead somewhere. I don’t think anyone knows where blogs and free services offered on the web lead. We’re figuring that out as we go.
The most common question I get is people asking if I’m a trust-funder or millionaire. No, unfortunately I’m not. I have to work for every dime like most of you. I have occasional photo editing, casting and consulting jobs to pay the bills and I’m living unbelievably cheap in Tucson, AZ with a family member. This will change when I move to Durango, CO around May 25th.
Next, most people probably want to know what I plan to do with this blog and all these readers. It’s changed several times since I began because honestly I didn’t set out to create a mainstream photography blog so for pretty much the whole time I’ve done this the answer has been “I don’t know or care.” When I started blogging I only wanted to teach myself how to blog, then it became a fun way to rant about work, then it grew to became very large and time consuming so I started to think I might need to get some advertising on the pages and try to make a living off all the time I spend writing and moderating the comments. I just couldn’t see myself hawking any type of photography equipment here so I gave up on that. It didn’t seem like a very good match for this site.
So, I finally decided very recently that the best way for me to make a living is to offer other products or premium services for a fee. It’s an idea that many web companies employ, you offer a few things for free to drive traffic and to create your own advertising platform and then you sell a product that a small percentage of the visitors are interested in. I’m not ready to discuss what those products are but I can say the blog will remain open and free and I’ll continue to do things like the free promos, media phonebook and photo rank as a way to support the community I’ve created and keep people coming back. As much as possible I’d like the blog to continue to be a place where conversations happen. A few readers have noted that the comments are more informative than the posts and I love that there’s so many people willing to share their experiences and ideas. I’d like that to continue as long as possible but I can’t pay rent with comments or notoriety so I’m developing products that hopefully will.
I’ll note here that I’m very aware that my thoughts on the industry and ideas on how people should behave will slowly lose relevance the longer it’s been since I’ve worked at a magazine. I’m cool with that. I hope other Photo Directors will take up blogging (email me and I’ll set you up for free and give you advice on how not to get caught) to provide that in-the-moment perspective and I’ll continue to interview people and give my opinion on the news and make posts that I feel are relevant. People who no longer find any of this interesting are free to leave. I’m not trying to create a monopoly here or write sensationalist material to drive up traffic. The blog has to evolve into something written by a former photography director. A few readers have commented on how they liked me so much better when I was anonymous and working at a magazine. I’m not going back so let’s hope someone else comes forward.
There’s been recent discussion about my previous anonymity and I’ll explain why I started my blog anonymously. First off, I always told people who I was when they asked. I wanted it to be an open secret. I was only keeping it from my employer because I had a contract that prevented them from firing me without a payout and this could have easily been voided if my blog was discovered. My family and I had moved all the way from Santa Fe to New York and that was my safety net. I’m actually uncomfortable talking about it now because I’m still bound by a non-compete and other contract terms until May 16th.
I offer anonymity to my commenter’s in the hopes that people will leave interesting tidbits they wouldn’t otherwise for fear of something getting back to their employer or client. It works most of the time but in a few cases it’s used for personal attacks. I try and prevent that from happening by patrolling the comments and will block people I think are real disruptor’s and remove comments that are intended to be evil. That being said I’ve decided anonymous commenter’s can remain anonymous forever. I’ll never track you down and if I inadvertently discover who you are I will never tell anyone. The same goes with emails people send me. All are confidential unless you personally tell me I can reprint something. I hope that helps. I recently tried to track someone down (technically I can’t track an IP address only guess who it might be based on city and state) because I wanted to ask why they were leaving nasty comments and I wanted it to stop. I’m not going to do that anymore. If it becomes really aggravating or disruptive I’ll just delete the comment or block the commenter. Additionally, if you impersonate someone who posts here I’ll just delete the comment or let everyone know it’s not the same person.
This leads to the final topic for spring cleaning, my thin skin. I’m going to do a better job of allowing criticism and dissent to my opinions without immediately firing a comment back. As I said before I’d like the posts and comments to be a conversation and other points of view are encouraged. I don’t want to get in the way of that happening.
I’ve been thinking that National Geographic photographers are uniquely poised to discover all the ways photography can reach consumers next. They already have one of the largest built-in audiences and that yellow border is instantly recognizable by the masses as a source for great photography. Plus, Geographic has always been good about moving the photography and photographers they work with into as many mediums as possible (books, calendars, note cards, videos, lectures, workshops) so consumers are ready to receive whatever they’re offering next. The biggest asset these talented people have going for them is the individual picture stories in their archive can have 100’s of great images no one has ever seen.
Stephen Alvarez is turning his massive 15 year collection of images into a picture-a-day along with a short story blog. He’s got other plans as well so this is just the beginning of attracting a huge following, one picture at a time. Check it out here: PictureStoryBlog.com
And then on Stephen’s site I discovered that David Alen Harvey is planning a New York to California road trip as a personal project to make a “portrait” of America and he’s invited everyone to help him make it happen. As in, help pay for lunch, gas and finding interesting people to photograph. Genius. You can hang out with David, watch/help him make pictures, learn a thing or two and buy him a turkey sandwich. Then, when it’s all over the people he’s met along the way and all their friends will be standing in line at Amazon to buy the book. Hell, I’d sell the magazine story to the highest bidder, it comes with a built in audience and a blog that gets 100 comments on a slow day.
Here’s what David has to say on his blog (here):
“here is the deal….offer me lunch and i give you a portfolio review!!….travel along with us and fill up my car with gas (getting expensive) and you might just get an almost free workshop, or find a great family for me to photograph and get a signed print (see how entrepreneural i have become???)….seriously, all of your ideas are welcomed..”
Look out crabby old media barons, photographers are leading the way.
I made a few more changes to the promo to get it working better before I send it out. I decided to change the name to:
After seeing ILikeThesePhotos in print several times I was starting to think it sounded a little juvenile, not very professional and too one sided. Folio Browser is a little stiff but I can see it becoming a useful tool for Art Buyers and Photo Editors and I’d prefer it sounded professional (it’s kinda like when your daughter name’s the dog princess and the stupid thing gets lost and you have to drive around the neighborhood yelling princess at the top of your lungs).
The biggest change is that the links to photographers websites are direct. They don’t go to Flickr first. In fact you don’t even have to know Flickr is involved in any way. It just serves up the images for the thumbnail page. The other big change is that the title can now support a name and location for the photographer. I’ve heard from a few people that this would be a really useful addition. If anyone wants to help me out with the locations for all the photographers just visit the flickr page and leave a comment on each one (here). I may not have the time to get them all changed on my own.
I already have several requests to make region specific versions of this project (Canada, West Coast, Los Angeles, Mexico, Mid West) with different groups of editors selecting the final group. I think that’s a great next logical step and I’m excited to see if this could become a regular resource for people. Only time will tell.
The only major problem with the new version now is that it’s slower than the previous. See what you think for yourself:
Jacko has a new post (here), Heather Morton’s blog keeps getting stronger (here), Joerg is still going strong and always good to read (here), Robert Wright is still doing insightful posts (here), AVS has added some new material (here) (finally!), I’m really enjoying The Year In Pictures (here) and then Rachel Hulin is finding her voice (here) and I’m enjoying that as well.
Tracking my movements on your email promos and website.
I think my enthusiasm for email promos and links to work on photographers websites was completely cut in half the day someone emailed me and said “I see you’ve been checking out my book” I actually looked for a portfolio in my office because I didn’t recognize the photographers name, “I just wanted to see if I can show you some more work or shoot an assignment for you.”
Then I realized they had tracked me from an email promo I clicked on and suddenly I felt duped. Are all the photographers secretly tracking my movements to see when I click on a link or how much time I spend on their website. Man, that sucks.
The truth is I spend way less time on someone’s website that I really like and way too much time on websites I find horribly bad.
I’m sure it’s pretty satisfying to see how many clicks you get and how much time is spent on the website and what kinds of things get people to visit and what kinds of things get people to stay but letting me know you’re watching is downright creepy and makes me think twice before clicking and visiting.
Bar none, showing your book is the fastest way to get a job in this business. If I meet you and like your work, then shake your hand and look you in the eye, it’s a virtual lock you’ll get an assignment. I was such a pushover in this regard that sometimes photographers wouldn’t even make it out of the building before getting a call on the cell phone with a job.
Usually what happens is I’ve got a shoot rolling around in my brain that I can’t quite land and I meet you and even tho you’re not perfectly what I was looking for in this particular story, your work is strong and you’re a nice person so I suddenly really want to hook you up with a job because well, I’m human. And, usually I can trot you over to the Creative Directors office and they’ll have the same reaction as I do “Zoiks Shaggy, let’s get this person a job.”
Getting in the door with your book is not easy (sometimes impossible) and if it was, everyone would be standing in line outside the Photography Directors office holding one of those butcher counter numbers waiting to get their assignment, so you get in which ever way you can. Keep trying, “Hey, I’m in the neighborhood and thought I’d drop by if you have time” or “I’m at the newsstand, saw the latest issue and wanted to drop by and show you my work” or get a meeting with a Jr. Photo Editor or an Art Director or the Fashion Director or the magazine down the hall. Whatever it takes.
If your work is strong and you’re not a complete jackass, show your book in person, it’s the best way to land a job.
When I started working as a photo editor I quickly learned a few lessons up front about buying photographs from amateurs: always ask how they planned to ship the images (we weren’t supposed to give out our UPS account to the non professionals) and determine beforehand what format the photographs might be in when they arrived.
I of course learned these lessons the hard way the first time I was handed the task of locating those awesome photographs the subject of a story always seems to claim his friend/mom/uncle/some dude took that will solve all the usual woes associated with trying to run stories about places no professional photographer has bothered to visit. A couple days would go by and I would call back to find the whereabouts of the images only to discover they’d been dropped in the mail with a stamp (duh, that’s how normal people send shit… not FedEx first overnight) and then a week later when the package finally arrives I discover the cruddy 3×5 prints (or worse disk film) and have to start the whole process over again only this time on a serious deadline.
The value in these otherwise unremarkable photographs was not the elusive subject captured by the writer’s uncle poorly depicted on 1-hour prints but rather the difficulty in obtaining the images and ergo exclusivity our publication would enjoy printing them (surely nobody else would go through all this trouble). In fact that exclusive look at things was so important, magazines with real budgets like People would fly a photo editor to the errant uncles house to gather the 1-hour photos themselves.
This has all changed of course, with the advent of digital cameras and the internet these once obscure, hard to obtain amateur photographs are everywhere and their value has evaporated overnight.
News organizations are picking up on this “citizen journalist” phenomenon as if we haven’t always used citizen journalists to fill in the holes and so I find it strange that they think they’ve discovered the holy grail of cost cutting in photography, because everyone seems to be missing one enormous piece to this puzzle. The value of these images to consumers is also zero.
It’s like walking into the furniture store and finding a junk-ass chair made out of two by fours and ten penny nails. “You’re trying to sell me a chair I could have built… drunk?”
Taking it one step further according to Thoughts of a Bohemian a website called Daylife (here) will scan the text on your web page and deliver relevant news images from a tightly edited pool of wire photography. He goes on to say “As newspapers and magazine are suffering more layouts as ad spending is weakening, most of the photo related professional are turning to the internet. However, because of its built in automation, it just seems that some of the jobs will not be recycle but ultimately replaced by machines. We will still need great pictures, thus talented photographers. Not so sure about needing photo editors.”
I totally agree that using wire photos or even citizen journalist images to “decorate” your story should be accomplished by machines because you’re not really adding anything of value to the overall package.
To all those content re-packagers who think any of this sounds like a good idea: good luck finding readers. Maybe machines will read that crap.
Check out the new and improved thumbnail view for the free promo at ILikeThesePhotos.com. This will give buyers a great opportunity to view 297 photographers in 10 seconds flat. Don’t think you’ll find that anywhere on the web. Special wOOt to my new business partner Erik Dungan for coding that up. It took him all of 10 minutes to do it so look for cool stuff coming down the pike in the near future. I’ll be taking this show on the road (email) in the next day or so.