We emailed Art Buyers and Art Producers around the world asking them to submit names of established photographers who were keeping it fresh and up-and-comers who they are keeping their eye on. If you are an Art Buyer/Producer or an Art Director at an agency and want to submit a photographer anonymously for this column email: Suzanne.firstname.lastname@example.org
Anonymous Art Producer: I nominate Nadav Kander. I wish all my creatives would create work like this. It’s pure. It’s the simplest equation of lighting and subject. In its simplicity lives a visual that is so complex and dramatic. It was a fantastic experience working with Nadav.
Suzanne Sease: How many years have you been in business?
Nadav Kander: I have been shooting professionally for 23 years.
Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I am self-taught and have been shooting since I was 13, as I was inspired by the work of Steichen, Stieglitz, Atget, Man Ray, and Moholy-Nagy.
Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
I met Harry De Zitter in South Africa, and he told me that if I wanted to make it in advertising, I needed to move to London. He said to me, “If you really want to be the best, you need to learn from the best.” If you recall the advertising in London in the 80s, it was second to none.
How do you find your inspiration to be so fresh, push the envelope, stay true to yourself so that creative folks are noticing you and hiring you?
I have never tried to get folks to hire me but to produce work that is liked.
I find that work that questions is far more interesting than work that gives you all the answers. I always want to create work that asks more questions than it answers. I think that has been the thread that links my work.
My influences are incredibly widespread, from the photographers I mentioned earlier all the way to the work of Jeff Wall to video artists to sculptures and paintings.
Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
I think if the client is trying to reduce the work to the lowest common denominator, it is hard for all parties involved to create a great collaborative vision.
The industry has so drastically changed that the art director’s position can be very difficult. I think art directors are saints who are coming up with brilliant ideas that they wish could be a certain way, and sometimes they are thwarted by the client. I am there to help the process come together as smoothly as possible for them. It’s a collaboration.
What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
I love doing editorial work. It offers a great creative process and the chance to work with great people. (The money is secondary.) I love it when an art director comes to me with something I have never done before and says, “I know you have never done anything like this before, but what do you think of this and how would you do it?” I welcome the challenge of a great collaboration because that is what pushes you forward, and you end up landing in a much better place than if you had done it alone.
I am thinking about starting an e-mail communication that would be for art directors, art buyers, and photo editors and would be about inspiration. It would be an e-mail from me of something I found inspiring, whether it was a photo I just did or a sculpture I found or just inspiring words. I am not sure how often I would send these out. I would have them e-mail me at this address if they would like to be a part of this. E-mail: email@example.com
What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
I think it is important for art directors to use a photographer who likes to shoot outside of the box. The end results are usually better, as it is very hard to create something original if you stay in your comfort zone.
Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
I am always thinking of ideas and giving myself projects that fall under this umbrella of what makes me tick. That is what art is all about: turning yourself inside out. I have a current project, “Bodies. 6 Women. 1 Man,” and one that I am continuing to work on in Russia. It usually takes me about two years to finish a project, which usually becomes a book.
Nadav Kander is an internationally renowned photographer, director, and artist based in London. Consistently among the top-ranking advertising photographers in Lürzer’s Archive, he has collaborated with clients across all categories (from finance, travel & leisure, and entertainment to alcoholic beverages and sports brands), and he is one of the most sought-after portrait photographers working today, commissioned by everyone from Time magazine to the National Portrait Gallery. In recent years, Nadav has also taken on directing assignments, among them “Evil Instincts,” a series of short films for GQ starring Hollywood actors famous for their villainous roles. He is represented as a director by Chelsea Pictures and as a photographer in the US by Stockland Martel, in UK and Europe (excluding Germany) by We Folk and in Germany by Severin Wendeler.
APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s, after founding the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies. She has a new Twitter fed with helpful marketing information. Follow her@SuzanneSease.