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 Philip Habib. Philip is a well-established photographer in New York, who has created iconic ad campaigns throughout his career as well as many amazing personal series. His latest “tip of New York” series is my current fave. It’s poppy and graphic and was totally appropriate this summer in New York with his sherbet colored backgrounds. Philip is a consummate pro: an iconic image-maker, a fantastic problem solver and an overall great guy!
How many years have you been in business?
I don’t consider photography a business. It’s my love and passion and sometimes I am lucky enough to get paid for it. I started shooting when I was sixteen so, a long time ago!
Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I attended Mallinson’s School of photography on the Isle of Wight In England and then continued at the New England School of Photography in Boston. I discovered Photoshop when it was first Introduced and taught myself how to use it.
Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
I wasn’t inspired by any one person – I was inspired by a generation of artists who could express themselves through their art. Many were musicians, artists, filmmakers and photographers, themselves. I suppose, like them, I was just looking for a way to express myself, and photography came very naturally to me. Many years ago, I discovered that my great-grandfather was a photographer in Florence and my grandfather was a photographer in Paris. My parents didn’t share this information until I was well into my career. I found out years later that my parents were actually surprised by my choice of career, and didn’t want to encourage it, nor let my grandfathers’ be my influence.
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 try not to over think my inspiration. Everything around me is an inspiration, and everything around me changes daily, I just keep photographing to stay fresh. The day I stop is the day it isn’t new and fresh for me. Like a French Baguette, it’s only fresh for one day!
Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
Rarely, my work seems to appeal to both. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad. Most of the issues arise on the shoot, and to resolve these, I cover as many versions as possible so that they can carry on the discussion in post-production.
What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
I use all the social network platforms. I send regular email blasts to Client’s and I distribute a mailing when I’m working on a new project and want art buyers to visit my site to see it. I also have very supportive agents, Matt Coogan & Darren Jordan at Anyway Mgmt. They are ‘live’ social net-workers, they do regular portfolio reviews, have probably met most art buyers for lunch and, as an added bonus, have a wonderful gallery in Brooklyn where they have had showings of all their photographers. These are always well attended and a lot of fun.
What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
The market has changed so much in the past 10 years, but one thing remains constant-people. You need to show them your vision, and something that stands out. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Really the simpler, the better. Especially when you are showing an art director. You hope that in someway your can inspire them.
When I first started out, I just showed 12 images of erasers, pencil shavings and pencils. Yes, a little scary, but people remembered, because nobody else was showing such a limited portfolio. When I lived in Paris, I showed a personal series on fruit, and the art director gave me a huge campaign for the then-new Renault Megane. I didn’t have a single car shot in my book! That was France. It rarely happens here in the US, as clients are more involved. You need to get an adrenaline kick out of showing your work, otherwise it’s no fun.
Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
I would say most of my work is personal work, and that’s what propels my commercial work. My personal work is really what pushes me artistically to break new ground, and my commercial work is more about the production aspect of how to create an image in a short period of time that will have my sense of aesthetics and fulfill the vision of both the client-and the Creative Director. I actually love that challenge.
How often are you shooting new work?
Well, not including my i-Phone, weekly.
Philip Habib, of Anglo-French heritage, was educated in London, Paris and Milan. He has been shooting commercially for over twenty years in Europe and the United States. His distinctive still-Life style has earned him industry acclaim numerous prestigious awards on both sides of the Atlantic. Advertising campaigns include Absolut, Smirnoff, Master Card, Canon, Sony, and Renault among others. Philip has lived and worked in New York since 1996, with his wife and three sons.
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.