Jennifer Rocholl- PDN 30

- - Photographers

I emailed Jennifer Rocholl after a few readers raised questions about the similarity between an image of hers and an entire body of work by Jan Von Holleben (here). I actually saw the photo in question in her portfolio several months ago and didn’t give it a second thought because honestly it’s not unusual to see similar work and ideas in photographers portfolios. A former first assistant’s work is actually expected to be very close to their bosses. Not a problem in my mind and even more so when it’s the only image like it in the portfolio.

It really only becomes a problem when you win an award or some kind of recognition and that image is published to represent you as a photographer. That’s exactly what happened with Jennifer and from what she tells me PDN was unaware of Jan’s work as well, when they made the selection.

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Tell me about the picture in question.

I shot that picture last May as a portrait of 2 clothing designers called Brown Sound, for Flaunt Magazine. It was a collaborative idea between the 3 of us, and developed that afternoon as we were coming up with ideas.

I was unaware of Jan’s work until last week when he emailed me and I saw his “dreams of flying” series on his site.

So, Jan emailed you after seeing it, what was his reaction?

He asked why I chose that particular image to represent my photography. Actually, PDN selected it out of my portfolio submission. I said I was sorry if he felt I copied his work, but that was not the case as I had not been familiar with him as a photographer or his series. And actually, if I was at all influenced by any images, they would be this fashion story Zach Scott did in 2002 for Los Angeles Magazine:

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and this shot of charles and ray eames:

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If you develop an idea that’s similar to another photographer’s do you think you should abandon it once you discover the similarities?

If I stopped what I was doing every time I thought I was emulating a form of someone else’s work, I wouldn’t get anything done. Would any photographer, at this point in photo history? Can you imagine if after Avedon, no one ever dared to shoot a subject in front of a white background? Or after Halsman shot his collection of celebrities jumping in the air, jumping was off limits to any other photographer? What if Tom Waits stopped doing his thing when people told him he sounded too much like Captain Beefheart? When I take a picture of the forced perspective illusion of someone standing in the palm of another person’s hand, does this now mean that I’ve monopolized this trick and I’m known as the “forced perspective photographer that shoots people holding tiny people”?

Ultimately, I think there’s a thousand more variables that make up a photographer’s consistent body of work and gets him/her jobs, besides an optical illusion gimmick. I think Jan’s a genius at what he does, the collection of these images is really beautiful and creative, but I don’t think my work and his compete aesthetically or stylistically. He and I have discussed our positions to each other and are both fine with it.

Off topic here but did anyone call and give you a job after seeing the PDN 30? I think that’s the reaction photographers would expect after being featured like that.

No jobs yet.

Ass in Seat Mentality

- - Working

I find the corporate workaholic mentality of, the longer you spend at your desk the better the product will become, utterly ridiculous and literally, ass-in-seat. The best ideas I ever came up with occurred on a morning run in the park in Connecticut not sitting in my office on 6th avenue or any office anywhere for that matter.

Jason Calacanis CEO of Mahalo started a raging debate over in the tech world with a line in a post about how to save money running a startup (here) that said “fire people who are not workaholics…” since revised to “don’t love their work.” He proceeded to get a good shredding from tech bloggers and my favorite response came frrom Signal vs. Noise (here) entitled “Fire the people who are workaholics!”

If your start-up can only succeed by being a sweatshop, your idea is simply not good enough. Go back to the drawing board and come up with something better that can be implemented by whole people, not cogs.

The business world is changing and it’s becoming harder and harder to find talented cogs. Corporations need a business plan that attracts whole people if they want to be around in 10 years. Well, that is unless you’re making cogs… cogs are still good for that.

Seamus Murphy

- - Photographers

One of my all time favorite photographers has no agent, no website, doesn’t send out promo mailers, no logo, isn’t in any of the sourcebooks, not listed in the free workbook phonebook, has never called to see if I’ve got anything for him and if I hadn’t scoured the web and made a few phone calls years ago I would have no clue how to contact him (you have to email me if you want his info).

Sometimes I get tired of talking about marketing and business because the reality is I really just like looking at pictures and I get a real buzz out of sending photographers off to take pictures and wish I didn’t have to deal with any of the other shit and I know photographers just want to take pictures so I thought I’d take this opportunity to say that if you want to be like Seamus Murphy and work hard to develop your craft then go do it.

A reader points out: …”Yours is probably the most helpful blog I have ever come across, however your insights make the whole industry sound so strategic. Your blog makes it sound as if us photographers all have to be walking on egg shells so as not to step on any toes. Hey! We’re the ones producing the actual pictures!”

Yeah, I hear ya buddy. There’s something I really enjoy about photographers who could give a flying rats ass about marketing themselves to me.

If you want to just go out take great pictures, I will find YOU. That’s my job. That’s why photo editors exist. If it were easy the editor could do it.

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Your Website on the iPhone

- - Websites

Apple announced yesterday that the iphone will not support flash (here).

A reader asked me awhile back about optimizing websites for the iPhone which I immediately dismissed as ridiculous and then, what do you know, I was out of the office later that day and tried to access a photographers contact info by going to their website on my palm phone because I didn’t have it in my database and couldn’t do it because of the flash so I thought ok, maybe there’s something to this.

In the larger scheme of things nobody will ever receive or lose a job based on the ability of their portfolio to render on a palm phone or iphone but more and more I find myself using google as a phone book instead of carefully entering photographers contact info into my database like I used to do.

It looks like a company called MoFuse (here), (TechCrunch report here) has a free and paid solution to the problem I’m just not sure how well it works with image galleries.

The PDN 30

PDN just announced their annual 30 photographers list (here) which always proves to be a valuable resource for photo editors looking for new talent or to validate someone they’re interested in working with. Unlike the other juried competitions this one is unique because PDN seems to make a real effort to introduce (drive) new talent into the system. I’ve personally used it to cherry pick photographers when the list comes out or to go back over several years worth when seeking some inspiration after getting bored with my own list.

It’s interesting to note in the editors letter that all the selections were made online this year which makes me wonder if printed portfolios are finally starting to fall out of favor.

They have a free event in conjunction with the publication of the list March 10th from 6:30-9 at Parsons with a panel discussion featuring 4 of the 30 photographers, Amy Lundeen, Photo Editor at Budget Travel and Fiona McDonagh, Photo Director at Entertainment Weekly (details here).

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Turning Down Jobs

- - Getting Hired

Turning down jobs is one of the smartest things you can do for your photography career.

A reader writes:

“For me it’s been really instrumental in the last couple of years to take shoots that I really think I can knock out of the park, and shoots that feel like I am a good match for to get something great. Also, I make it a point to never go backwards or stay stagnant at a magazine for too long. If I do a small front-of-the-book portrait as a first job or two, and do a great job and they call for more, I usually try not to take it. I try to let them know that I would be good for their bigger shoots, and it’s worked out well that way, working my way up to covers in some cases.

In other cases, I was definitely stuck in a quarter pager mode, and was looking for the bigger front of the book portraits. Turned down the little jobs and never got offered the bigger. Which is a risk I was willing to take to try to get the better stuff. I figure sometimes it’s good to leave a magazine and come back to them with a stronger body of work later.”

He’s not talking about turning down bad money or contracts either just jobs that don’t jive with your career goals.

When you’ve established a relationship with someone shooting small front of book or crappy subjects that no one else wants it’s impossible to graduate them to the big features, fashion or the cover. Try convincing an editor that the photographer who shoots 1/4 pages in the front of the book should shoot this months cover. It ain’t happening.

Also, when I see someone’s work in another magazine that I don’t like, it can take them down a notch on my list. They may have done the job as a favor but I never know the details or difficulties behind the shoot.

So, what’s the best way to turn down jobs? Don’t be the photographer who says “I only shoot fashion or covers” because that’s not going to get you a call back to shoot fashion or covers. The usual method is to be busy during the shoot days and that’s why good agents will never tell you their photographer’s schedule before they hear the job details.

As a Photo Editor it’s important to have a couple photographers who will “shoot anything, anywhere and anytime” because you can always rely on them to get the job done but for most people this is not the way to advance your career.

I’ve had almost all my favorite photographers turn me down cold at one time or another and even though it stings for a couple days in the end I respect them more for not compromising their vision. Some shoots are just never worth taking no matter how much you need the job because if the the results are bad we may not be working together anymore anyways.

Annie Leibovitz and the Queen

Here’s a fascinating video of Annie Leibovitz photographing the Queen from a BBC series entitled Monarchy: The Royal Family At Work (here). What I find interesting in photo shoot videos is not the 11 assistants or the lighting setup but watching the photographer interact with the subject. When assigning portraits of celebrities or famous people one of the biggest considerations besides “can they make a stunning portrait in 10 minutes” is “can they get the subject to do something interesting.”

I see pictures of some famous people and they always look the same and the pictures are always boring but the reality is that some subjects are really difficult to work with and unwilling to accommodate the photographer. They treat photoshoots like torture. The subjects can also be terribly guarded and afraid that we’re trying to take something unflattering or out of character and so they only allow certain emotions, clothing, backgrounds and props in the photograph.

The decision is usually between 3 basic types of celebrity photographers. “Named” photographers are great because the subjects and publicists will respect the name and body of work and grant more leeway with the subject because of their reputation within Hollywood. The disadvantage is that it’s hard to take the famous photographer out of the picture and so the subject sort of shares the frame with the photographer. Studio/Publicist friendly photographers have good working relationships with the decision makers and this can make the planning and logistics easy because they’re all on the same page from the start. Working with one of these photographers can guarantee several hours of time with the subject which means lots of setups. The downside is that these photographers need to maintain their relationship with the publicists and they won’t do anything that might piss them off. Tenacious photographers get ideas in their head they won’t let go of and are willing to push the subject to achieve the picture they want. The only problem can be that your 10 min. shoot could turn into a 1 min. shoot if everyone gets upset.

Annie really shows her tenacity in this video when she immediately tries to get the Queen to remove her crown after deciding it doesn’t look good in the first shot and not giving up on an original request request to shoot the Queen on horseback inside the state apartments. She brings it up at the end of the shoot as the picture she’d really like to take, laying the groundwork for next time.

The #1 Source for Stock

- - Stock

Photographer websites.

If I want to find the best stock in the world I just go to my favorite photographer websites and look at their portfolio and there it is, the top 40-60 photos they’ve ever taken, edited and ready to be published again.

Fill In The Blank Stock

- - Stock

Every once and awhile a designer would come up to me with a layout filled with holes. What goes in those holes, you might ask? Stock pictures of course. My job (and those who worked with me) was to take the layout and find photos that fit in the holes. If there’s a vertical hole next to a headline that says “Volleyball in Kosovo” I need to find a vertical photo of Volleyball in Kosovo. What happens if I find a horizontal photo of Volleyball in Kosovo? Can it be cropped? No, then that’s a problem because turning a vertical hole into a horizontal hole will obviously change the flow of text and suddenly your horizontal hole has the headline “Field Hockey in Gabon,” (this being a package on obscure sports in strange places and all) and now you need to find a horizontal of Field Hockey in Gabon but then what happens if you find a vertical of field hockey in Gabon, can’t you simply flop the stories. No, dumbass they’re ranked. Duh. They have to appear in the order we have them in–until the writer uncovers new information that changes the ranking and throws the whole thing out of whack. And, so it goes, filling in the holes until the final urgent email, “we still need a square photo of Elephant Polo in Sri Lanka and the package ships tonight.”

This is not a rant against Designers who hand Photo Editors layouts filled with holes. I know all to well the source of this phenomenon. The package was assigned at the last minute and the layout deadline is fast approaching and all the text is in so we need to start a layout while the slack-ass Photo Editor finds all the photos and the Editor really likes the configuration we used last year and the production department really needs adjacencies for advertising and don’t forget about the quarter page consecutive ads that Honda bought that need to appear on pages 4,5,6 and 10 of the package (clever bastards hope they paid a premium). Also, we want to add cool icons to aid in navigation because everyone’s using cool icons these days and don’t forget about the 12 sidebars plus a running ticker and what about the maps, do you expect the readers to know where Gabon, Kosovo and Sri Lanka are on their own, we need maps. So, you see designers, I know where the layout with the holes comes from and it’s not about winning SPD Gold just trying to survive the shit storm.

So, I close the door to my office, crank Rage Against the Machine, glare at any intruders, grab my handy stock list (here) and find the horizontals and verticals of all the obscure sports in all the obscure places. Sometimes I even surprise myself and find a really cool photo or agency or photographer that I didn’t know about, sometimes I just weather the storm.

Searching For Photos That Don’t Exist

- - Stock

Working as a Photo Editor at a National Magazine the monthly low point usually occurs when the editor reviews the layout illustrated with the shittiest photos I have ever seen that were the direct result of hours upon hours of stock searches for a subject that’s thinly covered and being told that, rather then kill the story or run an illustration, I need to look a little further and find something good this time.

“Did it it ever occur to you that the subject you have chosen for extensive coverage in the magazine might possibly be shit and that’s why the photos are shit? No, I’m sure it has something to do with the fact that I haven’t uncovered the one decent photographer who happened to take a picture that makes this subject look good. Maybe I’ll try Flickr or Google.”

And, so I would hunker down in my office with my Stock Photo List (here) and try endless combinations of keywords and search obscure stock sites and try single word searches on Corbis and Getty that would turn up 10,000 images to sift through or sometimes I’d troll the crap stock sites praying for a diamond among the turds and I’d do this until I felt like I’d looked under every rock or completely run out of time.

Having spent many years working at magazines of a similar genre from time to time subjects we’ve covered before would crop up in meetings and that’s where I could finally say with authority, “I’ve searched for pictures on that subject before and nothing good exists so we should kill the story now or assign an illustration.” This is usually when the Editor or Creative Director decides to do a quick Google image search and finds the perfect photo.

Stock Photo Agencies

- - Stock

Here’s my stock photography list. If I’m missing anything good let me know.

General
Corbis
Getty
Alamy
Jupiter Images
Aurora Photos
Masterfile

Boutique
Magnum
Art and Commerce
Lens Modern
Aperture
Gallery Stock
Panos Pictures
Glass House Images
F-Stop Images
Redux Pictures
Stock That Doesn’t Suck
Independent Photography Network
Monsoon Images
Arcangel Images
Trunk Images
IC Worldwide
Bransch

Syndicated Celebrity Images
Corbis Portraiture
Trunk Images
CPi Syndication
Contour Photos
Icon International
Exclusive by Getty Images
Lickerish
Art and Commerce
Vistalux
Lime Foto
Celebrity Pictures
August Image
JBG Photo
Headpress
Management + Artists Syndication

News
NewsCom
AP Images
The New York Times Photos
NYDailyNewsPixs
The Canadian Press
TimePix
Reuters
The New York Times Agency
Redux Pictures
Gamma Presse
Black Star
KRT Direct
UK News Photos
Polaris Images
World Picture News
Kyodo News
Landov
Invisu
Tass Photo (russia/eastern europe)
Laif
SIPA
Zuma Press
Atlas Press Photo
Retna
Rex

News- Features
Magnum Photos
VII Agency
Agence VU
Oculi
Oeil Public
Contact Press
Noor Images
Grazia Neri
Contrasto

Sports
Sports Illustrated
Sports Chrome
Icon Sports Media
ESPN Event Media
Red Bull Photofiles
Gilles Martin-Raget
Extreme Sports Photo
Empics
Cal Sports Media
International Sports

Outdoor
AGPix
Aurora Outdoor Collection
Surfing Stock
A-Frame Photo

Sailing
PPL Photo Agency
Blue Green Pictures
Kos Sailing pictures
Yacht Photo

Movie Archive
Everett Collection, Inc.
Kobal
Neal Peters Collection
Photofest NYC
Defd.de
Photo12
BFI Stills
RGA Pix
Picture Desk
Album Online
Movie Store
All Star
Eyevine

Travel
Robert Harding
Lonely Planet
Hedgehog House
UK Travel Library
Africa Imagery
Macduff Everton Stock
Tropical Pix
South Africa Images
Odyssey Productions
UK Beach

Region Specific- US
Photo Resource Hawaii
Alaska Stock
Accent Alaska
Yankee Image
Idaho Stock Images
National Park Photographs
Pacific Northwest
Salmon River
Pacific Stock Photography
ViewFinders Northwest
Yellowstone Digital Slide File
Picturesque Stock Photo

Other Countries
Euro Stock
4 Corners (Italy)
Axiom Photo
Europe Stock Images
Anzenberger Webgate
Italy Images
Switzerland Photos
China Stock
Arcapress Photo Agency
Maritius Images
Swedish Stock
All Canada Photos
New Zealand
Brazil
Asia
Foto Libra
Imagine China

Wildlife/Nature/Scenic
Peter Arnold
Minden Pictures
Animals Animals
Images of Nature
National Geographic Images
Terra Brasil Imagens
Nature Picture Library
Joel Sartore Stock
Norbert Wu
Steve Bloom
Art Wolfe
EarthWater
Seapics
Muench Photography
Terra Galleria
NHPA
Dembinsky
DRK Photo
Oxford Scientific
World Foto

Photographer Specific Archives
Erickson Productions
Strobo Photo
Jef Maion
LinkImage

Music
Music Pictures
Lebrecht
RedFerns

Art
Bridgeman
Art Resource

Museums and Collections
Smithsonian Photos
National Archives
Library of Congress Prints
UCR California Museum of Photography
George Eastman House
Charles W. Cushman Photograph Collection
National Archives
National Museum of Photography
Art Museum Image Consortium
Whitney Museum of American Art
Woodfin Camp
The Granger Collection
Royal Geographical Society
NASA Photos
Culver Pictures
Photos Grannis

Satellite/Aerial
GlobeXplorer
Orb Image
TerraServer
Aerial Photography
Aerial Stock
Land Slides

More General
YouWorkForThem
Imagestate
Veer
AGE Foto Stock
SuperStock
Acclaim Images
Images.com
The Image Works
Photo Researchers (science)
Millennium (London)
FotoTeca (travel)
Plain Picture
Tidal Stock
First Light
Big Shot Stock

Beauty/Fitness
Folio ID

Photographers Groups
PBase
Flickr
Photo.net
LightStalkers
Nature Photographers
Sports Shooter

Crap
Citizen Image
Fotolia
Shutterstock
Webshots
stockphoto.com
istockphoto

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- - Blogs

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Bruce Kramer Opens Bond Street Gallery

- - Photography Agent

Bruce Kramer is the owner of Art Mix in Los Angeles, one of the top photographer agencies in the country. They’ve always been an editorial friendly shop handling several of the biggest names in this industry. When I heard that Bruce was opening a gallery in Brooklyn I had to ask him a few questions to see what was up.

The gallery is called Bond Street Gallery (website here) and the first show is March 27th featuring Harold Feinstein’s Coney Island work.

Tell me about your new venture Bond Street Gallery?

I was visiting with a friend Robert DiScalfani who lives on Smith Street in Carroll Gardens and has lived in the area for over 10 years. We were walking around the neighborhood and came across a derelict yet beautiful building and both of us looked through the window and at the same moment said “this space would make a great gallery.” I had the idea of doing a gallery in the back of my mind so I cleaned out my bank account and stated this journey.

Over the last few years we started to receive emails regarding the images from the talent I represent at Art Mix and I had been making sales with very little effort and noticed a trend of younger people wanted a photo of their favorite celebrity and in general a much wider interest in photography.

I recruited Robert to be my partner, he’s been a working photographer for over 30 years who still does platinum prints in his own darkroom. We had the building restored, keeping it as original as possible. It’s a small 3 floor town house with a backyard–very much a different vibe than the large white boxes in Manhattan. Our vision for the space was to make it seem like you are visiting someone’s home or a photographers space where he might have his and others work hung around for inspiration.

The area in Brooklyn where it’s located is changing rapidly yet still has a sense of the past. Many new residents are restoring townhouses instead of buying new and we feel the area, in time would appreciate a gallery that had roots to the past but with a vision for the future.

I started to research photos of Coney Island and came across the work of Harold Feinstein a noted flower photographer who has published many books on subject. As a youth he would walk on the boardwalk in Coney Island with camera in hand and take pictures of one of the most culturally diverse areas in the country.

I continued to research photographs of Coney Island and came across many others who also had great imagery: Bruce Davidson, Bruce Gilden, Harold Roth and Sid Grossman to name a few. I contacted their galleries and I arranged to exhibit their work in the show.

We have plans to continue to exhibit work by forgotten and undiscovered talent from the New York area and around the world.

What skills can you bring over from running a successful photographer agency to running a gallery?

Having run a successful photography agency with varied talent I have developed a strong sense of what I consider to be good or even great photography and the ability to recognize talent.

Running a photo agency is very competitive as there are many agencies and photographers and less and less jobs available these days. I’m a firm believer in marketing and advertising which has really been the cornerstone of my business and I intend to bring that style to running the gallery. We are not expecting buyers to walk in off the street, we will go to them. While I’m new to the gallery world I’ve been in the photography business a long time and I’m getting a great response from established art photographers and galleries.

Do you think commercial and editorial photographers should sell their commissioned work as art?

For years photographers commissioned work has been selling in galleries. Penn, Avedon, Bailey, Newton, Outerbridge, Bourdin, both William and now Steven Klein. There have always been and there will continue to be commissioned photographers who are hired for their eye, lighting, sense of style and aesthetic. Even though the images were created to sell a product I feel they are no less art than the photographer who creates images on their own. In fact in some ways I feel the commissioned photographer has a harder job as they often have to work with other people’s ideas and parameters yet still be true to themselves.

How do you pick an exhibition for the gallery?

Picking to photographers to exhibit is not as easy as I thought it would be. I want to show work that speaks to me, that has soul and guts and I do feel I’m a good gauge of talent but I’m trying to view the photography from a non-commercial point of view. Photography was a medium many hobbyist got into and some of them were pretty good. The guy who sold me a car recently asked me what I did and when I told him about the gallery and he mentioned he use to take photos of jazz musicians. Well he certainly did: Miles, Dizzy, Lou Rawls, etc. Joe’s work has a raw quality to it that you no longer find.

I’m trying to dig a bit. I’ve contacted photographer clubs and have sent emails to their members. I’m also attracted to commercial photographers. Many do personal work to balance out the what they have to do to earn a living and I’ve come across some great work.

Do photographers need to decide between becoming an editorial, commercial or fine art photographer or can they be all three?

I don’t think a decision can be made concisely. If you are the type of photographer that has a vision and you stick with it, perhaps adapt a bit to the right and left if need be, remain passionate, your work will stand out. I do believe photographers when starting out are not just working towards a pay check, It’s more about expressing themselves. Often somewhere down the road they lose direction and do as told and stop using the judgment that got them there. All photographers no matter how successful should always be challenging themselves, exploring and experimenting to keep there creative juices flowing. More and more I am seeing photographers successfully working in all areas without compromising. My hopes are I can take an art photographer and get them commercial work and get commercial photographers into the art world.

10 Questions for Jodi Peckman- Rolling Stone

- - Magazines

I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was intimidated by working down the hall from legendary Rolling Stone Director of Photography Jodi Peckman. She’s garnered every accolade the photo industry can hand out and her rolodex is the size of a parmesan cheese wheel.

As it turned out my fear was unfounded because she’s a real sweetheart who’s willing to chat at length about working as a photo editor as well as happy to debate the merits of working with any of photographers in this industry.

I thought I’d ask her a few questions:

1. People ask me all the time how I became a photo editor and I’d be willing to bet everyone’s story is different. What’s yours?

Wellllllll… I had a friend who was the assistant to the Art Director here and I used to visit her at work and hang around the office a lot. I was still in school at the time. The Art and Photo Directors got to know me and so I would help out returning film or any small stuff they wanted. At the same time I was also printing photos for the guitarist of the band The Police (he’s a photographer). The Photo Director (Laurie Kratochvil) asked me if I wanted a real job, so she sent me to a photo agency where they hired me to file photos. I ended up working there for quite sometime and eventually left to hang out with my brother who lived in Italy. When I returned Laurie asked me if I wanted to work at Rolling Stone on the Random Notes section. I said yes, and I’m still here.

2. You’ve been a Rolling Stone a long time and I know there’s huge advantages to working within a specific genre having spent my entire career working with outdoor sports and athletics but how do you stay excited and challenged by the subject matter?

The best part about working here is that really it’s not just a music magazine. The range of what we cover is pretty big. We’ve got movies, TV, internet, politics, sports, crime, foreign and national affairs, environment and more. So, I don’t really see it as one genre. That being said, I’ve had to reinvent the job many times over. Coming to the same office, same desk, same everything for this long can get pretty weird and repetitive. The people around here change so that’s good and new photographers crop up all the time. I’m a creature of habit, so staying put suits my lifestyle (I eat a hamburger almost everyday).

3. One of the biggest challenges for me as a Photography Director was hearing, “you can’t hire that photographer” or “we’re not going to run that photo” and not taking it personally. How do you deal with it?

When you’ve been someplace this long you don’t really hear that too often. I guess they figure I know the magazine pretty well by now and fortunately my opinion holds some weight.

4. Do you still look at promo cards? What about promo emails?

Don’t really look at them. Well, I look at them of course, when they come in, but they rarely relate to anything we do here. Seriously, I get photographers who shoot babies and food send stuff all the time. I try so hard to open all the emails, and there are hundreds, but it’s not always realistic. There’s just not enough time. I feel terrible about that and I always promise myself I’ll try harder.

5. I found I didn’t have enough work for even my core group of photographers let alone adding new ones to the list. Do you still add new photographers to your list of people to hire?

We do. Not too many cover shooters tho.

6. Any predictions on how the photography industry will look 5 years from now? How about the magazine industry?

Ahhhh, magazines and newspapers will be around forever. I’m not too good about predicting the future, I’m livin’ in the moment all the time.

These next two questions come from an aspiring Rock and Roll photographer and reader of my blog.

7. In music photography, more so than other kinds of photography, people are willing give away their work for free or in exchange for access. Even musicians ask for photos in return for access. Magazines and festivals also seem to be trading access for photos. An example is the SPIN correspondent program, (here) How do you make a living (or at least part of a living) in that kind of atmosphere?

They’re giving you better access so you should be able to make better pictures. Better pictures should lead to more work. I worked here for free and so do our interns. We end up hiring half the people who are interns.

8. What is the best way to for a photographer to get their foot in the door at Rolling Stone? What assignments should newcomers approach (i.e. festivals)?

Being a concert photographer is brutal. So much competition. Find something special you do well and different from the others and work on an interesting and unique portfolio.

9. I always loved seeing the contact sheets from a shoot for the first time and in many ways that was better then seeing something printed in the magazine. What’s your favorite part of being a Photography Director?

Well it isn’t opening the box of photos. I’m always too nervous. Looking at pictures is so interesting and inspiring, and I really like photographers. I meet interesting people all the time. It’s creative and I feel that I am a part of what makes Rolling Stone what it is and how it looks. I feel so so lucky to have fallen into this job.

10. If you never got a job at Rolling Stone what would you be doing right now?

Beats me.

Lost in a Sea of Glass

- - Working

I’ve run quite a few sporting event photos over the years but I’ve never really contemplated what goes into making one so I decided to join a friend shooting a week long sports event. My initial reaction after the first couple days is… ARE YOU FNG KIDDING ME. Where the hell did all these people with cameras come from? I shit you not, I saw soccer moms with 600mm Canon lenses. What the hell are you going to do with those photos? Put them in your scrapbook? There were literally thousands of people shooting pictures of every single person, place or thing you could imagine. I guess I’ve spent all my time sending people to events and buying stock photos but never attending to see what goes down. You photographers can certainly put up with a lot.

After my initial shock with the camera toting public I realized half these people are actually sporting press credentials representing all kinds of magazines, newspapers and even blogs. I’m all for shooting original pictures but if everyone is standing in the exact same spot shooting the exact same thing I’m not so sure I see the point.

The bottom line is, access is everything, which is not really news to anyone but reinforces the idea that bringing your personal vision to photography is the key to making it.

Andrew Hetherington- On The List

- - Photographers

One day sitting in my office on 6th avenue reading photo industry blogs while the phone rang off it’s hook and the books piled up outside my door and assignments that needed to be made were not being made I had a eureka moment. I was reading Andrew Hetherington’s blog *what’s the jackanory* and there was debate about why a photo editor did something and why a photographer let a photo editor do something and I thought, “Photo Editors need a blog, I’ll start one.” I owe him a debt of gratitude for that moment but that’s not why you’re reading about him here. He’s also been on my list of photographers to hire for many years so I’m not going to ignore him despite the fact that a few of you think photo industry blogging is a self-perpetuating back slapping machine.

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Andrew (website here) is a top editorial photographer who lands commissions from magazines like GQ, ESPN and Details; and wins awards from CA, American Photography and PDN. Even though he spills his guts on his blog every week I thought you’d like to hear me ask him a few questions.

1. Can you tell me how you became known by Photo Editors and Art Directors as the cow with wall photographer and has it helped or hindered your career to be remembered so well for that one image?

I think it has been a great help. Its important to be remembered for something, right ? You know I didn’t realize this shot’s hidden potential early on, sometimes you are so close you don’t see what you really have. I didn’t think it had much of an edge but editors and art directors all started to react to it when I started showing the book around. I had it hidden down the back but then it quickly made its way to the front especially after PDN used it on the cover of the 30 issue in 2003. I used the image as part of a mailer that year and I still see it up on editors bulletin boards from time to time.

FYI, I am also refered to as the guy who photographs drunk Irish folk, barf, women’s bums, bloody noses, you know the funny quirky gross guy.

2. I’m sure it wasn’t a “eureka” moment but can you describe the chain of events that lead to you becoming a top editorial photographer?

My Dad was a lighting camera man (cinematographer) we were surrounded by gear growing up

I had no interest in moving pictures

Hated being in front of the camera which we often were

With my Dads encouragement I started dabbling with his Pentax slr

Joined the school camera club

Began to shoot the sports at school

Got to go to all the rugby games and be on the sideline

Got to all the parties too, score

Had a darkroom in my bedroom

Processed film in the bathroom

Discovered reticulation by accident !!

Had to decide what I wanted to do when I left school

Wasn’t terribly academic during my teens

Was more interested in music, fashion and my hair

Was accepted to Art School; a 1 year course in Commercial Photography

Didn’t learn much. It was the first time this school offered the curriculum
so it was a bit mickey mouse

Partied !

Assisted photographers in Dublin

Began shooting on my own, fashion mostly

Did alright for a while

Got as far as I could go

Needed to figure out where I was going with my life

Got a green card in a lottery

Moved to New york, gave myself a year to see what happened

Assisted lots

Was exposed to tons of amazing people and experiences who all had a profound effect on me and my photography

Fell in love

Started shooting again, mostly fashion

Did alright for a while

Realised I wasn’t going to be Steven Miesel

Got as far as I could go

Lost the passion for the fashion

Started to concentrate on what really excited me, environmental portraiture

Got a big break and was chosen for PDN 30 2003

Got the cover, yes the cow

Doors opened

Started to get really cool work with really cool people

Still am

Not taking any of it for granted

3. I’ve always had you on my list of photographers as someone who can take banal situations, make them interesting and also make a complete story out of it, not just one portrait. Can you tell me how you arrived at this style of photography? Also, does it bother you to be called to shoot subjects I think are dull?

Well Rob you never called so I guess there wasn’t much need for dull banality at Outside or Mens Journal. [SNAP! -Rob]

When I started out shooting in New York I always used a ton of gear, different cameras and lighting packages. I was all over the shop. As an assistant I had worked with so many different types of photographers that it took me a while to shake all their influences and hone my own style. At the time my personal work was more straightforward and as I transitioned from the fashion into portraiture I was looking for a way to shake my previous work habits; to be mobile, to be able to shoot indoors and outdoors at a moments notice, to be able to take advantage of whatever opportunity presented itself. Ambient light isn’t my thing, flash is, so I also wanted to keep that quick and simple too. I like a bit of quality though and amn’t a huge 35mm fan so in a nutshell I try for point and shoot mobility with a lit medium format aesthetic. I think this really frees me up (when there are no major assignment restraints) so I am not locked in to one or two set ups. I also wanted to be able to create the same quality of image whether I am on my own or whether I have one, two or three assistants. I love it when I get called to do a gig that calls for a set up portrait combined with elements of reportage.

Dull that doesn’t bother me at all and hey if there’s any travel involved I am down. To be honest I love pulling up in front of someone’s place in bum fuck no where, you never know whats waiting behind the door. Most of by favorite stuff is as a result of being out there somewhere; it may never make the magazine edit or even have anything to do with the assignment but one mans dull is another’s life altering experience. It can certainly be a bit hairy at times and the magic is not always a given but I do enjoy the challenge.

4. Are there any career choices you that you either regret or were the best decision you ever made?

I think the best decision I ever made was to start shooting for myself, to start doing what I wanted to do the way I wanted to do it, and not to worry about satisfying anyone else but myself.

No major career regrets to be honest, its usually the more obvious regret; when a shoot doesn’t work out as well as one had hoped or I miss a shot. Just makes me try even harder the next time.

5. If you were an insect what kind would you be and why?

I would be ‘grasshopper’

“Yet it is eyes which blind the man”…”Because a man can see, he does not look.”
– Master Po.

I still have so much to learn


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Brilliant New Technology to Licence Images

- - The Future

TechCrunch reports (here)–then I received an email from one of the founders–on the launch of a new company called GumGum (here) that allows people to license images on a cost per impression basis. This is the way images are licensed in the print world so it only makes sense that they should go that way online. This is such a brilliant idea for photographers and very similar to one I was trying to work on after leaving NY, but never got anywhere with, so I’m glad someone beat me to the punch.

If you don’t want to pay the cpm the photographer is offering they give you the option to serve advertising either on the image or as a pre-roll to the image instead.

Either way the photographer gets paid. How’s that sound to you?

Watch the video here on how it works:

The cool thing is how easy it is for someone to license an image from you. It reminds me of what Apple did with music.

It’s just the beginning for this technology but I’d like to see widgets photographers can put on their site that will take me to a licensing area with only their images. Also, they’re really going to need powerful search and keywording technology similar to what Corbis and Getty use if they want to make the service worthwhile for publishers but that’s where I think using google to search for images and then gumgum.com to license could be a powerful combination for the future.

I’ll be keeping my eye on this one.