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 Thomas Barwick. He does beautiful corporate/lifestyle stock work, some of which is available on Getty.
How many years have you been in business?
I started assisting 1990 and shooting full time in 1995.
Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I did a fair amount of commercial photography course work at Syracuse University, but I was a Liberal Arts student, so I have an English degree.
Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
I spent what seemed like quite a bit of time in museums as a kid (parents choice, not mine). I didn’t have the patience to understand the nuances of a lot of the art, so I would like to walk around the galleries and see what would stop me, some of that visual training may have rubbed off.
I was a full time assistant for a photographer in the waning days of his advertising career. I got to watch him begin re-invent himself as a very successful stock shooter. I didn’t start shooting stock for many years after I left there, but I understood that it could be a viable way to be a photographer.
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?
We almost exclusively produce stock, so in order to make the business economically viable we need to create imagery that will stand out on a page with 100 other images on it. We have to continually push to create better and better imagery. I am also not much of a technical perfectionist, I don’t want to do something I did last week or last year, there is no sense in repeating something we’ve already done, so we have to continually look for a new way to work on a theme or an idea.
Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
Fortunately, we get to work with a fantastic creative department at Getty Images and a brilliant Art Director. They continually challenge us to keep our work fresh. One of the best things about the way that we work is that the only real risk we have is cost of production. We own what we are doing, so can take chances with weather, locations, models and ideas. We will generally work with a loose idea and try to play off the real emotion that happens when we set a shoot in motion.
What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
Not enough. Until recently, there were hardly any tools for us to direct link to our collection, or specific shoots at Getty. That has changed and over the next few months we will begin to take advantage of that
What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
At the end of the day, I think anyone in a creative industry needs to feel creatively challenged with the work they do. There is always an awareness of what a buyer wants or needs, but you eventually need to find creative satisfaction and by doing that I think you tend to lead rather than chase.
Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
In effect, everything we shoot is for us. We don’t get paid to create imagery; we create it and hope that it will resonate with a buyer. So at the end of the day we have to be satisfied with what we have done creatively. We have to try to always evolve and elevate what we are doing.
How often are you shooting new work?
Over the course of the year we average between one and two shoots per week. May through October are extremely busy and November through March can be extremely frustrating.
Tom Barwick Bio
Photographer/Filmmaker Thomas Barwick has been with Getty Creative since 2002 and is based in Seattle. After graduating from Syracuse University in English with what he calls “no marketable skills” he began assisting photographers to survive and fell in love with the business. He spend the majority his time between working on stock exclusively for Getty Images, and doing the occasional editorial and advertising gig. Known for his “polished realism”, Tom’s work has been licensed for national and worldwide campaigns such as Dell Computers, Crate And Barrel, Scotia Bank, CitiGroup, and Toyota to name a few. His fascination with the fleeting and fickle genuine moments that tell a complete story makes his imagery uniquely stand out.
Collection at Getty
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.