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.email@example.com
Anonymous Art Buyer: I nominate Guy Neveling. His work is unique in a way that it has never lost the soulfulness of pure image making and certainly translates to art. So much so, that he was approached by a gallery in Paris for some of his commercial pieces.
How many years have you been in business?
All in all counting early press days before advertising, for around 25 years.
Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
After spending a little over two years on submarines while completing my mandatory national service, I managed to sweet talk my way into the naval photo department for my remaining year. I waxed the perfect B&W print on government time. About a year later I would be chased out of the darkroom by an irate editor of a top Johannesburg newspaper wanting a picture for his 8 o’clock deadline, lesson two; no time for Ansel Adams type printing in a busy big city newsroom.
During the day I would cover all the chaos of the dying apartheid system with its many township riots and inner city bomb blasts, and by night head home to my apartment and practice my lighting on bowls of apples. By the end of most days I would have B&W contact sheets of utter mayhem alongside colorful 4/5 trannies of bowls of fruit. It was an insane way to learn photography. Learning is a never-ending process, Cartier-Bresson wasn’t mincing his words when he said one’s first 10 000 pictures would be your worst.
Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
Into photography itself there are many influences ranging from vintage to present day. Julia Margaret Cameron, Clarence White to mid century Edward Weston and Robert Capa etc.
Strong influences for getting into advertising would be John Claridge and Harry DeZitter as well as directors such as Tony Kaye and Tarsem.
Much closer to home, I owe a huge amount to Shahn Rowe. He pushed and encouraged me to hit the pavements with my first ad portfolio (remember the bowls of fruit?). Shahn also sold me my first 4/5 camera and a studio light and let me pay it off over a period of one-year. I was officially open for business.
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 turn left while others are going right, meaning I try not get caught up in the latest Photoshop trend or look. I think that’s a dangerous path to go down for self-preservation and longevity for maintaining a love of creating pictures. It may sound a bit lame but there’s always a voice in my head that asks ‘how would I shoot it?’ before I hit the release.
Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
I’ve never really heard of that with the agency’s I usually work with. The clients trust the agency’s creative selection process. On big jobs there could be anywhere between 5 to 10 photographers being called in to do a treatment. The agency’s creative then chooses their preferred guy and presents their choice to the client along with a rational as to why they have selected a particular photographer.
What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
After years of A3 printed books I tried the IPad portfolio and wasn’t wild about it. The thing is too small to make any lasting impression. I think it was a novelty with its swiping screen and I got the impression the viewers were getting a kick out of the swiping (finger prints and all) than actually concentrating on the work. An A3 print is in your face and I think that alone slows down the viewing process, which is a good thing.
I’m sort of new to social media, I don’t think I have utilized it’s full potential but I think it’s a great way to get pictures out there to an audience one never knew existed. At times it’s interesting chatting with a total stranger sitting on the other side of the globe about pictures.
What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
I spent too much of my earlier years thinking I need more of this or more of that in my book in order to get the phone ringing, with a result that my personal work may have suffered. I think I also spent too much time worrying about getting printed ads in my book. One needs printed material to prove your worth, but maybe I chased that side a little too hard. Now I advise anyone starting out to shoot what he or she absolutely loves, work on the thumbprint first the rest will follow. Embrace everything, become a strong photographer in all sense of the meaning. The direction will eventually find itself.
Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
Yes the older I’m getting the more I’m concentrating on personal work. It gets more important as time moves on.
How often are you shooting new work?
I try keep a few things on the go simultaneously, that way when I hit a wall or something isn’t possible at the time on one project I skip to the other, it also serves as the ‘over night test’, meaning shots always look different with fresh eyes in the morning.
Guy set out as a press photographer in the mid 80s, covering South Africa’s transition to a fully democratic society. A chance meeting with fellow photographer Shahn Rowe exposed him to the possibilities of commercial photography. Guy swopped riots, tear gas and rubber bullets for the more relaxed atmosphere of a photographic studio with its coffee on tap and piped music. A move to Cape Town in ’91 had Guy open his own studio where he worked for a number of years before handing it back to the landlord: the open road and the challenge of location work beckoned.
Guy has won numerous awards at the various international advertising festivals that include D&AD and Cannes Lions. He’s also served on the Loerie’s print craft judging panel for the past number of years.
His work has been selected for the Lurzers Archive Special, ‘200 Best Ad Photographers Worldwide’.
Guy has always believed great ad photography worthy of galleries; an ambition recently realized when a gallery in Paris selected a number of his works, one of which was a picture commissioned for a financial institute.
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.