Virtual Car Photographer

- - Photoshoot

Ever dream of becoming a car photographer? Here’s your chance, visit Sexy Subaru to shoot studio shots of the 2009 Forester.

It’s so realistic that the assistants have already set up all the lights and then one of them drags a board over where, no surprise, the goddam art director has carefully laid out all the shots. Oddly, you’re shooting slide film and you only get 24 shots per setup.

Heidi Volpe- Art Director, L.A. Times Magazine

- - Art Director

Heidi Volpe and Michael DarterI’ve known Heidi for quite awhile now, we worked on and off together at Outside Magazine over a few years and still talk frequently about photography and the industry on the phone. She has an impressive resume of magazines where she’s worked that includes: Philadelphia Magazine, Men’s Health, GQ, TimeOut NY, Outside, Outside Traveler, Men’s Health 18, Muscle and Fitness and finally the L.A. Times Magazine. LA Times MagazineI think the makeover she’s given the LA Times Magazine is nothing short of brilliant. Sure, I’m biased towards full bleed images and minimal design fuss but her 18 Society of News Design awards last year proves the design community is behind that aesthetic as well. What’s even more remarkable is that a place as troubled as the LA Times would allow Heidi to continue to do such brilliant work. I think it’s more a testament to the power of a strong willed Art Director than it is any genius on the part of the management.

It must be impossible to work without a photo editor I mean honestly, how any magazine survives without the sage advice of a photo editor is beyond comprehension. Ok, seriously there’s a fairly large group of publications out there that don’t employ a photo editor and my theory is that it changes the photography choices because the person making them is concerned with how they will work with the design. Do you think not having a photo editor on staff effects a publications approach to photography?

LA Times MagazineI don’t think it affects the approach at all. I think it can be a great benefit. When I worked with Dan Winters and Christian Witkin they saw it as a great opportunity to have ultimate creative control and that’s how I see it. I’m smart enough to know superior photography is everything. I heard David Carson speak a long time ago about design, he said the answer is always in the picture and that stuck with me. LA Times MagazineAt a previous job I even got myself ejected for my taste in photography. I told the editor it wasn’t his fault he couldn’t recognize good photography because he’d only been exposed to a certain genre of imagery his entire career, which, I had no interest in working with. We had a battle over images John Huet shot for us which eventually led to an early departure.

There’s not much magazine publishing going on in LA or really, anywhere west of the George Washington bridge for that matter. Does that put more pressure on you to represent magazines that aren’t located on an island in NY? Why aren’t there more great publications in LA?

LA Times MagazineSure, I really wanted our book to be creative outlet for LA photographers. People gripe that there are no good photographers in LA, I strongly disagree and wanted to prove it and along the way support the photo community out here.

There are a few reasons for this, Life magazine (1936), Esquire (1933), New Yorker (1925), all started in New York City and they in turn spawned many more magazines. LA Times MagazineThey also raised an entire generation of editors, art directors, writers and photographers who went on to create and work at other magazines. Plus, now with the high cost of publishing you need corporate support to get started and all the publishers are in New York.

When it comes to awards and use of photography, newsstand magazines have always felt that newspaper inserts have an unfair advantage. You’re not subjected to the crazy newsstand, advertising and even some of the audience demands because your publication rides along inside the newspaper and is more of an added value then something that needs to pull it’s own weight. Would you agree with that?

LA Times MagazineInsert? Gawd, I hate that word. No, we compete with ourselves actually. We have to be something the paper isn’t and that can be hard sometimes because the Los Angeles Times itself has award winning photography. The LA Times Photo Director, Colin Crawford is amazing (examples, here and here).

Our struggles are different, it’s a content war to see who gets there first, we can’t cannibalize the newspaper’s feature sections so we always have to make sure whatever we are reporting is fresh and that can be difficult. Most magazines traditionally use newspapers to locate stories to further report in depth. We can’t do that. We do however have fewer coverlines on the image which is nice and no upc but we have advertising in every issue so it’s no different than a newsstand magazine. We need to pull our own weight especially now with many, many cut backs in this industry.

What are your main sources for finding photographers and how do you like to be reached?

I talk to a lot of photographers, go to openings, visit Art Center, look at magazines and look a lot online. Art Streiber is also a great resource and ambassador for the photo community out here (on top of being a great photographer).

So, you don’t really use promo cards or book drops?

No, I still rely on promos and book drops but word of mouth is my favorite method for finding photographers. I love talking to photographers about other photographers they’re into.

With your focus on all things LA will you hire photographers from other cities? Do you ever shoot anything outside of LA County?

We just shot a feature story in Paris. Is that far enough out of LA for ya?

If you have any questions for Heidi leave them in the comments.

Interview with Edward Westons Wife and Muse, Charis Wilson

- - Photographers

Photographer Renée Jacobs interviewed 93 year old Charis for London based Photo Icon magazine (website here). Here’s an excerpt.

AT THE AGE of 93, Charis Wilson has seen more than most people ever will – and the art world has seen more of her than almost any other woman in the history of photography. As Edward Weston’s lover, writer, companion, driver (Weston never learned to drive), and model from 1934-1945, Charis left an indelible imprint on Weston’s work and the way in which his photographic nudes are examined. Charis is the subject of more than half of all of Weston’s nudes, including some of his most famous – the Oceano Dunes series and Nude in a Doorway. His portrait of her at Lake Ediza is well known (if somewhat misunderstood). Charis grew up in a literary family, surrounded by adults and few children to play with. She was a sickly child and developed her strength by bicycling – and swimming naked out to the kelp beds in Carmel Bay. When she met Weston, she was 19 and he was 48, already an accomplished photographer with one book to his credit and a growing reputation as a new breed of modernist photographer. Her literary skills helped secure Weston a Guggenheim grant in 1937 – the first ever awarded to a photographer. Her insight and observations accompanied his photographs during their Guggenheim travels in the ground-breaking and bestselling book, California and the West.

What was your reaction to seeing the photographs for the first time? I had seen some poor reproductions before that – but to actually look at the prints, I had never seen pictures like that. I was used to other people that made pictures softening things – the Pictorialist style was in vogue – so I had never seen photographs like these. Sonya showed me some of the shells and the peppers – then pulled out some of the 4×5 nudes.

… and what was your reaction to the nude photographs?
I thought they were terrific. Again, I’d never seen anything like that.

Did it make you want to be part of that art or did it make you more interested in him as a man and a person?
Yes, I was more interested in him I think… well, it’s hard to say. It’s too far back to really determine – but whatever it was, I wanted more of it. More photographs. More of the person that made the photographs!

What was the posing or directing method that he would use in those early sessions?
He didn’t give any directions. He just said: ‘Go over there and sit down or lie down, or do what you feel like doing and move around all you want. Change your position as you want to’. That’s what Sonya had told me: ‘… there’s nothing to posing for Edward. In fact, you don’t even pose. You just move around and do what you feel like’. And that’s all very well, except when you try to do what you feel like he’d yell: ‘Hold it! Hold it! Stop right there’. So you could never move without being told to ‘hold it’. I had a mental picture of what I would look like in his camera – these rather idealized nudes based on ones seen in his darkroom – but even after 5 or 6 moves I never got to the point I had imagined because he’d keep stopping me on the way.

It was during that time in 1936 that Edward made the famous nude study of you in the doorway of the Santa Monica Canyon house – and neither you nor he were completely happy with that image, correct?
Well, we knew it was a good picture. But we had our objections to things that should have been straightened up.

You were not satisfied with the uneven part in your hair and the bobby pins and he was not satisfied with the shadow on your arm?
That’s right. Well, the shadow on my arm was really worth protesting, because if you didn’t print it very carefully it looked as if I had a withered arm. Whereas the hairdressing was simply sloppiness on my part I’m afraid.

… and he only made the one exposure of that?
He did with everything 8×10; you couldn’t afford to make duplicate exposures. He never did.

People read all sorts of symbolism into Edward’s still lifes – that he never felt was there. Did you think Edward was being truthful with you and with himself (and with the art world) when he said that there were no hidden meanings?

Edward had a way of saying that in some cases symbolism was inescapable. It is just there and you can’t very well erase it when you’re making a picture, even if what is moving you to make the picture is something else. So he was not interested in the obvious reading of a photograph. He got impatient with people who were looking for everything to be sexual in a picture of a pepper. To him, that was a much too simple – and simplistic – way of looking at a picture.

And similarly, with the famous Lake Ediza photograph – you’ve written about how tired you were and how exhausted, but still you were somewhat perplexed or amused that people would read into that photograph a certain sensuality. It was really you just sitting against the rock exhausted.
Um… hmm. Yes, I really was just exhausted [smiles].

It got to the point where driving around during the Guggenheim travels, Edward would doze off and you would scout a location because you were so tuned in…
Uh huh. Right. For the most part.

But you felt like you still could never quite see the ‘Weston moment’.
In the early years, I was obsessed with doing that. I was making the picture in my head. I figured I knew what he was doing, and how he was seeing, so well that I could put it together – I never did. I finally figured that Edward was the picture maker and I was the wordsmith. He simply does not do it in words; I do not do it in pictures.

Why do you think you were obsessed in the early years with doing that?
I think because I had a very strong feeling that anything anyone else could do, I could do, you know. It was really bigheaded on my part, I think. That everything in the world could be that simple. That it was possible to get hold of and ease myself

Did you ever have any desire to photograph or do nudes of him?
No. No. I never wanted to take photographs. And it absolutely amazed Edward, because he had a good number of female students in those days that had all been helpers of one sort or another and he kept offering to teach me. I always wanted to look through the ground glass, in fact, it was so automatic that he finally stopped asking me and just moved off for me to get under the focusing cloth and look at his picture. He knew I always wanted to see it. But to do anything photographic? Absolutely not. I knew this much about photography from listening to what he said. It took far more command, self-command, of what you were looking at and doing than I would ever have. As far as I was concerned, writing – which is what I assumed I was pretty good at – meant that you wrote and then you rewrote – and then you rewrote again. Carefully. I had learned this from my grandmother and great aunt and father, all of whom were writers of one kind or another. Something you worked on. This was anathema to Edward. Photography – a photograph – wasn’t something you worked on. That was the kind of thing that no good people who fixed it up later in the darkroom did. He had to be so sharp and so straightforward that he could find the thing immediately, set up the camera and see just what he expected to find there. Get the thing in focus in no time at all, pull the slide, make the exposure. I could never see this as a way of working.

Why would I want to be a photographer? I loved what he did and that was enough for me.

Phillip Toledano’s New Book- Phone Sex Workers

- - Photographers

Phillip Toledano has a new book coming out on phone sex workers (here).

When I see a project like this (Timothy Archibald’s sex machines comes to mind as well) I’m always impressed by the photographers ability to convince the subjects to sit for pictures that will potentially be seen by hundreds of thousands of people. It’s worth noting for for future assignments where a subject might be spooked easily.

Via, Swissmiss.

Michael Norseng- Director of Photography, Esquire

Michael NorsengI consider Esquire to be one of the great publishers of editorial photography in the history of magazine making. Like any publication there are ups and downs but their standards remain very high and Michael does a tremendous job filling those very big shoes.

He originally moved to New York from Wisconsin to work in post production and editing for film but got sidetracked playing street-ball in Brooklyn (hey, goofing off does lead to great things), then started freelancing and landed a month long gig at GQ that ended up lasting 4 years. After taking some time off from GQ, Nancy Jo Iacoi called to see if he’d like a position at Esquire and 3 years later she left to become the director of Orchard (Getty Assignment). Michael interviewed with the Creative Director and Editor and was awarded the DOP position.

Esquire is among a handful of magazines that influences the editorial agenda for national magazine photography. The people you hire and the stories you publish have a far reaching impact. Are you aware of this and if so, how do you reinforce it?

I am aware of it to a certain extent and I’’d be lying if I didn’t say it was somewhat motivating to know that people are watching, but if it does anything, it pushes me to be smarter about who and how we assign photography. The magazine is held in such high regard, that I think initially when photographers get the call, most know they have to elevate their game. We collaborate, work with them, and still often have to push to go a little bit beyond.

Do you have a specific plan for how you use photography in Esquire? Win awards, entertain your readers, avoid the wrath of Granger?

The goal is to be progressive, cultivate and use emerging talent, just not for every story and every issue. We really try to pace the commissions and be conscious of established and proven artists that still contribute great work.

Because we’re a general interest magazine, Associate Photo Editor Alison Unterreiner and I need to be on top of photographers and work across a lot of different categories like– portrait, still life, photojournalism, art, fashion, etc. We try not stick to the same photographers over and over, because if you do the aesthetic becomes too homogeneous and stagnant. The goal is to give the reader a visual trail mix, offer a new experience or collection each month. Luckily the stories in Esquire dictate a lot of this variety.

Awards are nice but just a side result. All photo editors secretly hope that an assignment, commissioned at any size, will be award worthy.

It seems like the window to produce photography for a monthly magazine continues to shrink because editors want the stories they assign to be more topical. How do you make sure you’re getting talented photographers who are always busy into the book without the long lead times?

If the initial photographer, that I know in my mind is right is unavailable, I’’ll go to the next person on my list. If that person is unavailable, I’’ll go to the next but if it doesn’t happen after that third person, I often step back and think about other ways to visually represent the story photographically or dig deeper, then I’ll have a discussion with David Curcurito (and of course Granger), about altering the photographic approach or going with a new name.

I’ll admit that I poached a good handful of photographers from Esquire over the years do you use any magazines to find photographers?

No, not really, I’’ll go to Universal News maybe once a month and flip through titles and if someone’’s work happens to strike me, I’’ll catalog it to look it up later. But, I wouldn’’t really say I poach. I do enjoy looking at New York magazine though, I think Jody and her crew do a great job.

What are your methods for finding new photographers to hire? How do you prefer to be reached by people?

Alison and I have started to do occasional lunches where we will sit and show each other work and websites of people catching our eye. We’ll discuss their work and make lists of people who we agree on, who maybe will fit at some point in the magazine.

The other ways are through references from people I trust in the industry, mailed promos, portfolio drop offs or members of the creative department saying ““hey, check out this site or this image.”” I have to say that email promos are the worst way to reach me. If I recognize the person, fine, but often there is a problem with the images embedded in the e-mail, or the link to the site doesn’t open. We have so many pertinent work emails that if the email promos are setup badly or confusing, they become almost like digital noise.

You work at a magazine where the story trumps the photography and I’ve been in similar situations myself where “the story is running photography be dammed,” so you’ve got to figure out a solution that’s not going to embarrass you. Illustration is a natural choice but often I’ll see snap shots the writer took running in Esquire. What’s your approach in a situation like this?

I’’m actually fine and in many cases I prefer writers to take snaps while they are reporting, especially if it gives insight to a location or subject or something happening spur of the moment related to the piece. If its trash we of course won’’t use it, but if it can run small on a turn page and it adequately supports a part of the story, I’’ll take a look. Some of our writers, Colby Buzzell for example, have on multiple occasions made the images a key part of the reporting process. Again, it goes back to variety. Do I want all the images in the magazine to be shot with a digi point and shoot, of course not, do I want that kind of shot to be the opener of a story, –almost always no, but sometimes things are what they are. In fact, without telling you what the image is, next month we have a shot opening up a feature story that’s haunting, poignant and was taken by a non-photographer with just a basic camera. Look out for it, the story it’s attached to is fantastic.

Tell me about the recent Obama cover and how you came to run an outtake from a shoot published on the cover of Time.

In response to the original question you refrenced, “we wonder how Esquire failed to get an exclusive portrait for their cover” my guess is that they didn’t bother to read Charles Pierce’s story on the inside of the issue “The Cynic and The Senator Obama.” Charles observed the Obama campaign from the outside, as the millions of us in the crowd are doing, and offered a critical appraisal of the Senator without a sit down interview. As you know, its rare, especially for a guy who had bigger fish to fry at the time of the issue, to participate in a shoot when there is no direct involvement with the piece.

We were of course aware that the Platon shoot was originally commissioned by Time and how they ran the material. However, Platon has a long history of shooting key political figures for Esquire, starting with, one of the most iconic of all time, the Bill Clinton cover in December of 20’00. Since then, he has done others, GOP candidate McCain in ’06 and Senator Edwards in ’07. So, if a shoot would have somehow presented itself, its fair to say that he would have been at the top of our list. Thus, we were extremely happy that the B/W shot was available and that we got it for our cover.

Finally, I think that David Curcurito’s innovative cover line treatments continue to make the covers unique.

So, number five on your list seemed about right, but I did find all the speculation entertaining.

Michael has agreed to take a few reader questions in the comments, so let him know what’s on your mind.

Photo Book Publishers

A good source for standalone photo essays to publish in a magazine is the upcoming books lists from photo book publishers. A few of the big publishers like Chronicle or W.W. Norton will do photography books but generally the good stuff is with the specialty publishers. It’s interesting to note that the literary publishers are extremely proactive about shopping the first serial rights around to magazines for publicity but it’s rare for a photography book publisher to do that so you’ve got to go look at the upcoming lists yourself and see if there’s something worth pitching to the editor. I’m working on a project now that needs a couple photo essays so I thought I’d share my list:

21ST Editions
Aperture
Arena Editions
Chris Boot
D.A.P.
Dewi Lewis
Farewell
Foil Web
Hassla
J and L
Kehrer Verlag
Lodima
Loosestrife Editions
Monacelli
Nazraeli
Phaidon
Pond Press
Power House pH
Prestel
Quantuck Lane
Radius
Sasquatch
Scalo
Steidl
Taschen
teNeues
Trolley
TV Books
Twin Palms
Umbrage Editions
Watson-Guptill

Photo Eye publishes a newsletter with upcoming releases. Always a good resource.

More in Europe:
Apeiron
Edition Braus
Hatje Catz
Lunwerg
Mets & Schlit
Peliti Associati

Australia
T&G Publishing

World Press Photo Winners Talk About Their Images

- - Awards

Incredible feature on the World Press Photo site where you can watch a video of the photographer describing the story behind their award winning shot (here).

The beauty of it all, in my mind, is the design. The video of the photographer occupies a small space in the lower left corner allowing the image to dominate the screen. There’s even a little magnifying glass feature on the right that allows you to closely inspect the image like you were holding a loupe, not that comparing the sharpness of Platon’s portrait of Putin to Tim Hetheringtons beautifully blurry photo of the year, will give you any added insight. It’s just cool

I haven’t explored all the photographer interviews but listening to Platon describe the chain of events that led to his award winning portrait of Vladimir Putin (possibly the only formal portrait he’s ever agreed to) reinforces my belief that great photographers will always deliver under any circumstance. I’ve not seen a picture of Putin where you can actually sit and contemplate his expression and facial features and while that may seem very trite sitting in your home or office in front of the computer under the circumstances presented I think it’s quite remarkable.

Regardless, hearing the stories behind the photos is an incredible addition to the World Press Photo event and certainly a huge step toward increasing the popularity in the future.

Via, Paul Melcher.

Dispatches- A Magazine For The Future

- - Magazines

Dispatches is a new quarterly magazine co-edited by Mort Rosenblum, former editor of the International Herald Tribune and Gary Knight, founding member of VII photo agency. Each issue will focus on a single topic and the premiere issue topic is America. I’m told Antonin Kratochvil has an 80 page photo essay *repeat, 80 goddam pages of photography* from a month long trip across the US. Holy shit that’s awesome. The topic for the second issue is Beyond Iraq and will feature photographer Yuri Kozyrev. Awesome again.

Until I get my hands on the first issue I’ve only got the website (here) to go off, but I really like what I see and of course the 80 page photo essay sounds epic. This jibes perfectly with the role I foresee for magazines in the future. Covering topics in depth and displaying them in ways the internet can never compete with. Long form journalism and BIG photo essays. I honestly don’t need to see another thumbnail photo in a magazine for the rest of my life. I’ve got my fill right here on the internets.

Funny how none of the big publishers are going to step up to the plate on something like this so leave it to a photographer who’s sick of covering a story for a month and getting 2 pictures published in a magazine that will end up in the garbage can by Wednesday to make the big move.

Mort explains it further in the editors letter:

“We conceived dispatches to fit somewhere between Gutenberg and Google, a lively source of fresh knowledge about a world changing at warp speed in a format for people who savor the heft of words and images on paper.”

“Too often, these days, we forget a simple truth: the Internet is a means of delivery, not a source.”

“Gary Knight and I, co–editors, are journalists who were frustrated at trying to seek “truth” on the fly.”

Also, be sure to check out World Press Photo’s overall winner, Tim Hetherington’s acceptance speech (here). Love the honesty.

Good luck Mort and Gary. I hope you find your audience.

Orphan Works- ASMP Update

- - copyright

ASMP is now calling for photographers to write their Senators after realizing the Senate version of Orphan Works has none of the changes they like in the House version and could still be passed into law the Senate version was changed for the worse. Here’s their statement:

“Call to Action on Orphan Works: ASMP urges you to contact your Senator in opposition to S.2913, the Senate version of the Orphan Works bill. Now is the time. We continue to support the House version, H.R. 5889.”

I think they both suck and have already written the Senate and the House.

Via, Photo Attorney.

Photo Reps Who Blog

- - Blogs

There’s a few agent blogs out there worth checking out. AVS (anonymous agent blogger A Visual Society) is posting more infrequently but promises good stuff on the horizon. Redux has been blogging for awhile and they use it the way I think most agents will, as a tear gallery and honestly that’s just fine with me because I don’t always get the chance to check out all the magazines on the newsstand and I love a good tear or two. Wonderful Machine has a been doing a similar thing for awhile now too.

The two newest additions to the Agent blog scene are Leah Levine at L2 Agency (I helped out on this one) and Kristina Snyder at Snyder and Co. Here’s my list add any more in the comments and I’ll update. More the merrier as far as I’m concerned.

Kristina Snyder
L2Agency Blog
Redux Pictures
Wonderful Machine

SPD Photography Winners 2008

- - Working

Here are the GOLD winners from last weekends SPD awards (more here) in Photography.

Magazine of the year

The New York Times Magazine (over 1M circ)
Director of Photography: Kathy Ryan
Photo Editors: Kira Pollack, Luise Stauss, Joanna Milter, Clinton Cargill, Leonor Mamanna, Stacey Baker

Wired (500k to 1M circ)
Photo Editors: Zana Woods, Carolyn Rauch, Anna Goldwater Alexander

Blueprint (under 500,000 circ)
Photo Editors: Mary Cahill, Darlene Schrack

Cover

GQ
Photographer: Nathaniel Goldberg
Director of Photography: Dora Somosi

New York
Photographer: Vincent Laforet
Director of Photography: Jody Quon
Photo Editor: Caroline Smith, Leana Alagia

The New York Times Magazine
Photographer: Sasha Bezzubov
Director of Photography: Kathy Ryan

Entire Issue

The New York Times Magazine
Photographer: Dan Winters, Gareth McConnel, Richard Burbridge, David Sims, Andres Serrano, Paolo Pellegrin, Rineke Dijkstra, Katy Grannan, Gueorgui Pinkhassov, Robert Maxwell
Director of Photography: Kathy Ryan
Photo Editor: Kira Pollack

Feature, Spread/Single Page

GQ
Photographer: Jill Greenberg
Director of Photography: Dora Somosi
Photo Editor: Justin O’Neill
Senior Photo Editor: Krista Prestek

The New York Times Magazine
Photographer: Inez van Lamsweerde, Vinoodh Matadin
Director of Photography: Kathy Ryan

Best Life Magazine
Photographer: Mary Ellen Mark
Director of Photography: Ryan Cadiz
Photo Editor: Jeanne Graves

Feature, Story

New York
Photographer: Paolo Pellegrin
Director of Photography: Jody Quon
Photo Editor: Lea Golis, Nadia Lachance

Vanity Fair
Photographer: Annie Leibovitz
Director of Photography: Susan White
Photo Editor: Kathryn MacLeod

Wired
Photographer: Daniel Stier
Photo Editor: Carolyn Rauch

Non-Newsstand Photography

UD & SE
Photographer: Casper Balslev

Photo-Illustration


Wired
Photographer: Dan Winters
Photo Editor: Carolyn Rauch

Same Cover Different Mag

- - Working

Time and Esquire Covers

Daryl Lang over at PDNPulse catches Esquire running the same Platon shot of Obama that Time did 6 months ago (here) and asks:

We wonder how the Esquire editors failed to get an exclusive Obama portrait for their cover. Awesome type treatment notwithstanding, are they honestly satisfied making the same visual statement Time made six months ago?

Daryl let me count the ways:

1. Platon didn’t tell them it was the same cover that Time used. Probably didn’t go down this way but it’s not unusual to be told after the fact by photographer (or stock agency) that they assumed I knew. Usually someone on staff (copy editors are good at catching this stuff) will recall the previous cover as it’s going around the office in a round and we’ll have to make a last minute swap.

2. Obama’s camp didn’t give the photo department enough time or agree to their conditions for the shoot. Again, probably not the case since Esquire has pulled off it’s share of 5 minute cover shoots so it could be that there were other scheduling conflicts. Also, when you’ve done your stock research beforehand you know you’ve got to beat the best stock cover you can find so if the photographer you’ve agreed on, the time limit and location don’t lead you to think you can do it, save the $20,000 for something your audience really cares about, like getting a photographer over to cover the Burma cyclone and don’t just shoot a variation of the 5 min. cover with a different suit on.

3. The writer or fact checker asked questions that caused the PR Director to use the Cover shoot as ransom to make changes to the story. You always save the hard questions and fact checking the difficult quotes till after all the reporting is done and the cover is in the can. If you don’t they can hold the shoot as ransom to make changes. If that happened here, Granger likely told them to go to hell and so went the cover shoot.

4. Esquire had a different cover they didn’t like that much and Obama clinched the nomination as the magazine was in the final week of shipping, so they found the best stock available and grabbed a story they’d been preparing for months hoping the timeliness would make up for the obvious duplication.

5. Only PDN will notice so who gives a flying rats ass.

Keren Sachs- Director of Photography

- - Working

Keren Sachs Director of Photography for Merchandise at Martha Stewart Living OmnimediaKeren Sachs is the Merchandising Director of Photography for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia in New York City. She got her start as a Photo Editor at National Geographic Kids spent time at the Wall Street Journal and then as an Art Director at Corbis where she refined the more commercial aspect of Photo Editing that she utilizes today.

Keren oversees the photography for all the merchandise at Martha Stewart where all advertising, packaging and marketing is done internally for their 17 selling partners. She produces all aspects of the photo shoots and hires a wide range of photographers to shoot everything from food, wine, bedding, lighting to glassware. She retains long standing relationships with a number of photographers and tries to balance that by seeking out fresh talent as the opportunities present themselves. The company maintains 5 studios in the office and she’s able to spend time on set with all photographers and shoots throughout the day.

I had a few questions for her but I would encourage anyone else who wants to ask something to drop a question in the comments and we’ll try and get it answered.

Tell me about the shooting all the merchandise for Martha Stewart Living. How many photographers do you hire and how many products are you shooting and how many shoots take place each month?

This month we have 6 shoots for over 200 different products. I hire freelance photographers for all of our work. Currently, we have 18 partners so there is a great mix from Home Décor to Food and Wine to Crafts, Flowers, Home Goods and Textiles.

How do photographers get on your radar? What are your sources for finding photographers and then what’s the process for hiring them?

Agents update me on their new photographers or the new work from people I already know. I also do research and spend time on agency and photographers’ sites. Once I find a photographer I will call in a hard copy portfolio if I haven’t seen it already. I bring the books to meetings to discuss photographers with our creative team. I can’t do this the same way with a website. However, one thing I keep noticing with portfolios is that most photographers only put their favorite work in their book—a book of lifestyle images shot outside in a field isn’t going to help you land a job shooting interiors or still life here. The best way to get on my radar is to show me work that is relevant to the work we do. If it is not in the book, I can’t get our creative team on board.

These days I don’t get as many self promo cards as I used to. However a fantastic promo by James Tse introduced me to his work and I just hired him to shoot packaging for our line of food at Costco. I also attend portfolio reviews and events where I can meet with agents and learn about other photographers. I find article’s like PDN’s Who’s Shooting What helpful as well.

We have a core group of photographers who have been with the company for many years and do great work in both editorial and merchandising. Victor Schrager recently shot packaging for our Martha Stewart Collection at Macy’s. He also shot our Martha Stewart’s Cookies Book.

Do you find that shooting products over and over again can become tedious and if so how do you combat that?

The products we shoot are different every season and for every partner. We also have a diverse and talented group of art directors and stylists working on each shoot. Our products tell a story and inspire the consumer. While we do not want the consumer to see the same image over and over again, we do want them to see an image and know that it is quintessentially Martha Stewart.

There’s a fairly well established aesthetic to the Martha Stewart brand so is it possible to introduce new styles of photography?

There is a way to modernize our photography and make it fresh while still keeping true to our look and feel that people associate with the brand. You’ll notice this in our Self Portrait advertisement campaign shot by both Eric Piasecki and Sang An.

I think the value of product photography goes up as buying decisions go to the web because photography is all you have to grab consumers. Has that become a factor yet in the photographers you hire?

Definitely. Our photography a key aspect of our brand online and in print. However, our products must still remain hero while we build brand equity in our merchandise lines. The images have to be strong enough to instantly grab the consumers and make them stop before clicking through to something else. One way we increase the value is by making sure the imagery is lit beautifully and with purpose. You’ll notice this in the photography for our new line at 1-800-flowers.com shot by Travis Rathbone. Too many times I have seen images with beautiful lighting but the product is in shadow. That doesn’t help us sell products and it certainly doesn’t work on the web.

Sheila Metzner

Hey, it Looks like Sheila Metzner’s got a new website (here) as well, complete with music and slideshows (Caution: If you’re at work make sure the volume is down) so I think it’s safe to say we have a genuine trend here (ok, maybe it started a year ago, I haven’t been keeping up with Sheila and Albert).

It think this is partially about building a fan base and mostly about taking control of your content. All the legendary photographers have content floating around the internet and there needs to be a place to link everything back. Also, when consumers run into your work somewhere and google you to find out more, there should be a place they can go to see more work and other stuff like buying books or getting a lecture schedule or watching a video interview (you can do whatever, once you’ve got the google juice). Let’s hope the trend continues.

Thanks for the tip Robert Wright.

Sheila Metzner

Sheila Metzner

Sheila Metzner

Albert Watson

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.