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 Kristyna Archer. Aside from her obvious talent as a shooter, she is personable, fun, able to roll with the punches and goes to the max to make people happy. We used her and my creatives are as smitten with her as I am. We are all excited about what the future holds for her.
How many years have you been in business?
I went out on my own as a photographer 3 years ago.
Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I went to Columbia College in Chicago and received a BFA in Photography. The camaraderie I experienced from both faculty and classmates during my time there was electric. Then you work your first day on set and you realize you know nothing about how this industry works. A formal education was a great foundation, but only scratched the surface.
Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
I mean there’s a plethora of who, what, and whens that all culminated into “I don’t see how I could not do this everyday.” But specifically I had some amazing professors that would just rip apart your work in critique, which challenged me and pushed me to become a thorough and intentional artist. Linda Levy believed in me and pushed me out the door when I was afraid to make the leap from assisting to shooting. And of course there are those specific artists, directors, writers, cinematographers, that I am constantly inspired by and in awe of- Diane Arbus, Erwin Olaf, Wes Anderson, Anton Corbijn, Sagmiester, Larry David, Thom Yorke.
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 think the easiest way to answer this question is to “be random.” Put yourself in totally random places and situations, with different people all the time, and you will have a plethora of ideas to let bake until they are ready to hatch. That’s sort of what I do. Embrace the spontaneity in life. Also being present in the moment and in tune with all the hilarious human behavior that is happening constantly around you for great entertainment value. People are weird but we all try really hard not to show it. Yet the quirky parts of us are the best parts of us.
Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
Ok, I am not trying to be a “goodie-two-shoes,” but honestly every client I have had thus far has had a respect for what I am bringing to the table and has allowed me to do what I do best. And vice versa, I respect what they need to make their client and team happy. You get exactly what they want, and then you give them a different perspective that sometimes you are unable to see from being too close to a project. It’s the perfect balance and a great collaboration. Everyone wants the best results for the most reasonable cost. You problem solve and think ‘out of the box’ to make something look expensive in a “bogo” kind of way.
What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
There’s nothing better than meeting someone in person, getting to know them, and seeing what work strikes a chord most for them personally. Yet meetings are hard to get, so I try to make sure my personality comes thru in the marketing materials that I put out into the world. Business is personal, so I love to write notes or make ironic statements on my printed promos. And as much as I wasn’t fond of social media before, now I’ve truly accepted it’s essential and a great tool for business. There are those that abuse it, but I think the power of the potential networking outweighs it.
What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
It’s over before its even started. That might be a little harsh on my part, but one thing about this industry is you must have a thick skin, strong sense of self, and succinct vision to get anywhere. Who really wants someone to spoon-feed what you think they want? It seems so disingenuous and unattractive. I suppose I relate it to dating. Stop trying so hard and just be yourself. Whatever you are passionate about the most will be the most obvious anyway.
Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
Constantly. That’s the only thing you can do to perfect your craft, develop your style, and find your voice. You can’t be afraid of bad ideas. I think there’s a lot more to lose by not getting it down on paper, or further, creating and being afraid to share. What’s the point? It’s just a discussion or conversation I am trying to start, and there’s no right or wrong. I understand being vulnerable can be scary, but how can you be an artist and not put yourself out there and literally leave your heart on the page. It’s always your best stuff, even if it’s too revealing. The process of discovery and evolution of a concept will help cause a breakthrough. The more you create the higher your chances of making your best work all the time.
How often are you shooting new work?
All the time. Once a week to once a month I’m working on personal projects depending on how busy I get with client work.
Kristyna is an advertising and editorial photographer who specializes in storytelling. Her work focuses on conceptual narrative and portraiture. Her clients range from Canon, to Inc. Magazine, to the New York Times. After growing up blocks from 8 Mile Road and traveling all over the Asia-Pacific as an on-location retoucher, she’s capable of finding a common denominator regardless of upbringing, culture, or language. She is inspired by her own paradoxical observations, the idiosyncrasies of human behavior, and an inherent love for fashion and design. She currently splits her time between Los Angeles and Chicago. Kristyna is represented by Friend + Johnson.
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.