50 States + 50 Photographers = Brilliant

- - Photographers

I can’t imagine a more useful resource for discovering new photographers by state than this 50 states project (here). I recoginized quite a few names when I landed on the home page (Jeremy & Claire Weiss, Wayne Levin, Larry Schwarm, Juliana Beasley, Jesse Chehak, Naomi Harris, Shawn Records) which really helps. There seems to be a common thread among the photographers which is likely a reflection of the editor’s taste in photography and certainly helps the whole thing work because you know going in that this works for whatever project you have cooking.

I like the idea of the self assignments because that’s essentially what photo editors do when they look for photographers in magazines (assigned and completed here are the results) I’m just not sure that it works on that level because you don’t have the same limitations a magazine assignment would have. What I do like is seeing current work. I can tell a lot by looking at something just shot.

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There Are 36 Comments On This Article.

  1. Debra Weiss

    Rob – just curious. PDN has done this same idea as a feature on more than one occasion. Did you refer to that as brilliant also?

    • @Debra Weiss,
      Doubt it. Haven’t had a subscription in 3 maybe 4 years. If I recall correctly they did it to tell other photographers how business was in their particular state not to help photo editors find photographers.

      Hold on.

      Here, I found it for you.

      http://www.pdngallery.com/special/50states/2007/index.html

      In this version none of the photographers have websites.

      Here’s another version:
      http://www.pdngallery.com/special/50states/2005/index.html

      They’ve mixed wedding and corporate photographers in there so that’s not as helpful. Then there’s nothing about the photographer on the page.

      So, it appears that this version blows doors on theirs.

      Maybe you don’t realize that besides the PDN30 and the photo annual the magazine is geared towards photographers not photo editors.

      • Debra Weiss

        @A Photo Editor,

        I’m well aware of who PDN is geared toward. I’m also well aware that many of their subscribers are ad agencies and magazines. PDN is well read by buyers, art directors and photo editors so while the original intent was to let photographers know how business was in their particular state, they enabled the above mentioned in finding photographers.

        “They’ve mixed wedding and corporate photographers in there so that’s not as helpful. Then there’s nothing about the photographer on the page.”

        Yes – and there are wedding publications and business magazines that probably read PDN. Perhaps the links have been taken down as these pieces are a few years old.

  2. [Jesus, everyone’s picking Rob’s likes and dislikes completely apart lately. Not to blow smoke, but shit, let the man have an opinion]

    We need this in Canada! 13 provinces and territories, 13 photographers.. and *something*. Perhaps.. assistants? Studios? *something*.

    Thanks for sharing this, Rob.

  3. The inherent and obvious problem with this is its limited aesthetic and participation. It’s just not representative of much at all. To have just one photographer representing New York, for example, is just ridiculously limited.

    • @Jimmy,

      except it’s not really a problem b/c what’s going on here is an art project…It’s not intended to be an in depth directory of U.S. based photographers catergorized by state.

      you guys are taking something and trying to morph it into your own needs/expectations and look what’s happening…the negativity is already rising to the surface after only 3 comments….just check it out and take it for what it is….

  4. Jesus christ, there’s a whole lot of bitterness going on between the PDN post and this one. Thoughtful critique is one thing, but alot of what’s been said in the last few days strikes me as trite and nonconstructive hate.

    This 50+50 project is pretty smart, and is yet another take on a photo concept that would have had no legs 3-4 years ago. If you don’t like Stuart’s idea, that’s fine- go off and create one of your own. Don’t just sit back and complain how it doesn’t fit your own ideals.

  5. Stuart (the organizer of the project) also has another similar thing going called “12 Faces” which I’ve been part of since early last year. It’s smaller in that there’s only 12 photographers but we represent an international stage hoping to get selected for the National Portrait Gallery in London’s annual selection.

    http://www.12faces.org

  6. I agree that the concept is brilliant. I’m having a bit of a problem with execution. Not on the part of the website but with the photogs in general.

    I am disappointed that my state’s, Wyoming, photog didn’t make the deadline and that the many of the others seem to be shots pulled from archives rather than meeting the terms of the original challenge of producing new, fresh, assignment specific images. Maybe these photogs just don’t really need the extra exposure.

    It is nice to see lots of images, many are quite good, but were I the editor I’m afraid I would have some hesitation about handing out additional assignments to at least some of the participants. But I guess the definitions of assignment and deadline are open for individual interpretation.

    Debra Weiss seems to be bound and determined to keep PDN’s name in our faces. Does she have some connection to the publication or represent it in some way? I’ve never seen PDN but now I can’t help but wonder if it also has an attitude that is antagonistic and uppity.

    • Debra Weiss

      @Pat Honstain,

      “I’ve never seen PDN but now I can’t help but wonder if it also has an attitude that is antagonistic and uppity.”

      Haven’t you heard? Not only are women allowed to ask questions and voice opinions these days, but rumor has it we’re going to be able to vote soon and maybe even buy land.

      Thank you. That was the best laugh all day.

  7. Cliff Owen

    America as seen by 34 white men, 15 white women and 1 Asian man. Tsk tsk tsk!

    • john mcd.

      @Cliff Owen, What would be a good fair ethnic, racial and gender balance?

  8. Cliff Owen

    I am a white male and when I looked at the portraits of of the photographers, I was shocked. Where is the Hispanic viewpoint? The African-American? The gender equality?

    Are there no minority shooters worthy of this project?

    I’m not saying a minority should be considered over a more qualified white photographer — this nation’s been down that path and we know the problems it caused.

    But I find it hard to believe that not a single African-American or Hispanic photographer is qualified to be on this team. And to have only 30% female participation seems out of sorts with reality.

    • @Cliff Owen,
      It’s a good observation. I’d like to see some numbers on the pro photographer community to see if a 70/30 male female isn’t in line with what exists.

      • White Male

        @A Photo Editor,

        quoting: “I’d like to see some numbers on the pro photographer community”

        I think you’ve stumbled onto something here that leads to a lot of confusion and ambiguity on this blog, and that is: What is your target audience here?:

        a. Editorial photographers? (since that was your old occupation).

        b. “Pro” photographers? (What does that mean? Advertising photographers?)

        c. Fine Art photographers? (Completely different set of rules apply to them).

        It’s almost like, with each new day’s post, there might be a small Subhead that stipulates what part of the market you’re talking about that day. Because everyone reading here reads this through their own eyeglasses, and their own “filter”, depending on what segment of the marketplace they’re working in.

        Fine art rules are completely different from Photojournalism rules, which are completely different from Advertising photographer rules, which are completely different from Editorial rules (and motivations).

        As I read this blog, it seems like people get upset, because they’re reading their own rules through a topic that does not apply to them.

        As far as my segment, (advertising), I’d say the 70/30 proportion applies pretty closely.

        • @White Male,
          Pro= you make your living taking pictures (pay the rent, put food on the table…).

          There is no other definition.

          My target audience? Whomever drops by. But, my expertise is limited to Mens Editorial Magazine Photography With An Emphasis On Outdoor Adventure.

          I’d like to know about the 70/30 in advertising for gender. Tell me which female photographers are heavy in advertising but shoot very little editorial.

  9. my only grudge is that the district is once again maligned – but what do i expect from a place that isn’t even offered voting rights in congress. i know, we are a small constituency, and don’t even get me started about puerto rico and guam. but yes, you did say states. i would just like to say that territories our people to. not so punchy a headline, but we got feelings.

  10. I’m not sure how this could even be compared with the PDN feature of the same name. That’s simply a question answer report on biz in there state. This is generating new images (supposedly) by a selected group of photographers. I think it’s really cool, some of the photogs are duds but hey it 50 photogs from 50 states, there’s bound to be some variation, I’m sure my favorites are different from some people and vice versa you can’t make every one happy.

  11. this entire thread is exactly why I don’t hang out with photographers. They are really the worst people alive.
    all kicking, screaming and fighting. they are deluded into thinking that their work is good, even though it probably isn’t.

    i love photography, i make my living doing it, but jesus, you people are my colleagues? get a clue.

    there are two types of photographers in this world. the ones who went to art school and the ones who didn’t.

    • scott Rex Ely

      @Loverboy, This is an industry as diverse as any. Just like the legal profession has James Bybee, David Addington, John Yoo and Alberto Gonzales as members, our profession has its characters too. Sure shit floats, but so does the cream. Thank God, any God.

  12. “I can’t imagine a more useful resource for discovering new photographers by state than this 50 states project”

    Hey Rob, while I do think it’s a cool thing, I also believe the above statement makes you seem more naive and void of resources that we all know you are.

    I mean really, you CAN’T imagine a better resource?

  13. Rob,
    I was excited to hear about the 50 State project and ran home and hopped on the internet to have my bubble pop. I was curious at first to see who the photographers were and secondly to see what new and fresh ideas they may have come up with. When I saw the photographers names I was happy to see a few that I recognized and wanted to see there new ‘unleashed’ work. Then, (pop). I was truly disappointed to find that pretty much all of the work I looked at wasn’t new and fresh, but work that was already published. Boo! These don’t appear to be ‘self assignments’. I wished that they were a bit more original and raw. Most of the people shots seem to be about, “Hey look what famous person I shot”.

  14. “this entire thread is exactly why I don’t hang out with photographers. They are really the worst people alive.

    there are two types of photographers in this world. the ones who went to art school and the ones who didn’t.”

    hahaha – now are the ones who went to art school the problem or the solution ?