Former Art Buyers and current photography consultants Amanda Sosa Stone and Suzanne Sease have agreed to take anonymous questions from photographers and not only give their expert advice but put it out to a wide range of photographers, reps and art buyers to gather a variety of opinions. The goal with this column is to solicit honest questions and answers through anonymity.
Teen Vogue Director of Photography, Jennifer Pastore and Aoife Wasser, freelance creative director are teaching a senior seminar class at Parsons in the BFA Photography program. The class deals primarily with the business side of the photography industry and the students wanted to ask “Ask Anything” questions (Note: we would love to have comments from the readers as well). Here they are:
Is it necessary to assist to become a photographer in the fashion industry?
If you want to learn from the best in the business and experience how a professional photo shoot should be, it is best to assist. There are a few photographers who are successful without assisting (Suzanne adds: I can only think of a handful and I have been in this business since 1985).
What creates longevity in a successful career?
Honesty and keeping creative. A great personality with talent will keep you working for years!
What do creative/photography directors and gallerists look for when hiring someone for a project – editorial/advertising/exhibition. What questions should you ask when someone is buying your work or contracting you for a job.
Two different worlds- gallery- you have to try and meet with the curators and get a show. They are looking for work that people will want to add to their collections, work for walls. Agencies- images that are in line with the assignment they need to shoot to sell a clients product. Editorial- images that can tell a story and sell magazines.
What is the best kind of portfolio to show your work, printed book or Ipad?
These days it is three ways: virtual (page-flip.com); printed on beautiful paper- Blurb style is not the way to go. iPad is awesome for those meetings where space is limited and a place to show new work. Plus with the iPad you will always have your portfolio with you as you never know when the opportunity comes up to show your work- on the subway, airplane, restaurants……
How do you initiate contact with publications, agents, and galleries to send them your work?
The very best way would be to call the person, state that you are going to send them a link to your portfolio (hence why the virtual portfolio is awesome) DO NOT ask them to write anything down say that you are going to send them an email (make sure you have their e-mail address prior- Agency Access is a great place to get all this info- worth the yearly subscription fee).
How and when do I get photographer agency representation?
You have to research them to make sure you are a good fit and just like above send a personalized e-mail with your work.
What steps do you recommend to someone who is interested in starting a gallery/non-profit art space?
I recommend trying to get grants and maybe research corporations that are a part of an ethical group. The Ethical Corporation in Londan is the best place to start. They have a LinkedIn group: The Responsible Business Group
What are some sources in applying for grants?
You can hire grant writers- Mary Virginia Swanson is the best person to consult for fine art photography
Is blogging and online representation an important part of branding yourself?
Branding is the total brand of your identity (Like a logo, a look that is consistent through out all that you do). Adding blogs and social aspects could be considered as media placement, which is part of your marketing spectrum and your brand (your name, visuals must be consistent on these mediums), blogging in wordpress is a solution to get better google placement. Most blogs are read by other photographers- buyers are just so busy (but Art Directors will read when they have time). Then there are on-line source books like Photoserve, LeBook, Workbook, ASMP find a photographer… get placed in as many areas as you can for free.
Stock photography – is this a good source of income and how does one go about selling their images?
It used to be but with the inception of Flickr and royalty free it has been a harder industry to make the living that folks were used to 10 years ago with 6 figure income- now you have to diversify and market in multiple areas. Ellen Boughn (stock consultant) has a 30 minute consult as a great way to understand all the options.
Is it essential to have extra skills like, video training etc…, to keep up with new media demands?
It is becoming more and more important as clients are asking photographers for still and motion to cut costs.
Dear Students, you are our industry’s future. Please put your heart into your career and shoot what feeds your soul.
Call To Action:
Get an internship, get your site looking professional, network and be a good person and business person!