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 Buyer: I nominate Peden+Munk, these two young talented people, Jen and Taylor, work in a symbiotic mode I’ve never before seen. Each is a creative enthusiast and each has the technical acumen. There were times during the 2 day shoot in which they would seamlessly interchange roles while shooting. After the shoot we walked away with a modern arsenal of imagery that helped to forge the success of our clients new website. I cannot say enough about the value reaped from the talent of this gifted team.
How many years have you been in business?
We have been shooting together for 7 years.
Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
For both of us it started with a passion for photography which led us to Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.
Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
Taylor’s father is a photographer – music, interiors, and portraits – and his mother was a creative director at Elizabeth Arden, so he grew up in a very artistic environment.
My father gave me his old Pentax when I was about 11 years old. I have been shooting ever since that day.
Then while at Art Center, renowned Los Angeles photographer Paul Jasmin encouraged us to work together. In his class we shot fashion and portraits and with his words, “show me where you live” in our head, we started to develop our narrative, story-telling style.
One of the first projects we shot under Jasmin’s tutelage was called “Breathless”. Inspired by the 1960 Godard film of the same name, we set out with two models and drove through the streets and alleys of Los Angeles abstractly interpreting some of our favorite scenes from the film. In the end we had a beautiful book of images and realized that our collaboration was something special.
Jasmin’s encouragement also gave us a great sense of freedom. It was liberating to know we could dream and conceptualize anything we wanted. More importantly, it pushed our photography in a direction where it had never gone before. Then the lines began to blur: whose image was whose? We realized it didn’t matter because we had spawned what is PEDEN+MUNK today. Jasmin is still an inspirational mentor.
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?
Our subjects inspire us. Often that inspiration is more instinctual than intellectual. It’s a nuanced dance between capturing a moment and creating a reality.
We keep our work fresh by approaching it as storytellers, rather than as pure documentarians. One photograph can be powerful but we find creating a narrative with many images is more effective. It allows us to deeply engage the viewer so they understand what we see and how we see it.
Sometimes that narrative is revealed in the editing process. Of course we initially compose our images with a linear sense of what we believe the story to be but like any art, photography is fluid so we have to be able to adapt as we go. In the end, we create a focused representation with a clear beginning, middle and end.
Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
There are always politics in business. But the key to success is working hand in hand with the creatives to achieve the best possible work for the client. That means pushing the boundaries as far as you can, while keeping in mind that the commercial process is always a collaboration. The ideal day is when everyone feels like their vision was acknowledged, respected, and exceeded their expectations. That’s when solid teamwork can produce beautiful results.
What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
Personal connections and networking are vital to our success. Whenever possible, we schedule one on one meetings. And we believe a strong promotional piece is one that will never be thrown away. It’s all about quality, simplicity and great design.
We also use Instagram. There we can connect with clients on a more personal level. It also lets people know where we are and what we’re working on. Additionally, we work with our agent, Jodi Rappaport, who is a loyal advocate. All of these tools help us develop our career and continue to do the work we love.
What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
Be true to yourself. Only show work you’re passionate about and that represents what you want to do every day.
Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
We’re grateful that our assignments allow us to shoot artistically so the need to shoot personal work is fulfilled every day. We feel lucky to have this creative freedom.
How often are you shooting new work?
All the time.
Peden+Munk (Taylor Peden and Jen Munkvold) are a photography team based in NY and LA.
Their editorial work can be seen in Bon Appetit, Conde Nast Traveler, GQ, Glamour, Gather Journal, and Garden & Gun. Other clients include: Electrolux, Newcastle, Renaissance Hotels, and Crate&Barrel. Peden+Munk also photographed THE GRILLING BOOK: The definitive guide from Bon Appetit.
Peden+Munk are represented by The Rappaport Agency. (www.rappagency.com)
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.