Posts by: A Photo Editor

The Daily Promo – Elysa Weitala

- - The Daily Promo

Elysa Weitala

Who printed it?
HH Imaging in San Francisco printed the photo cards. I’ve worked with them on a few other projects and they are wonderful! Great quality prints and awesome people! The custom blue box was printed by Packlane and the branded wrapping paper was from Spoonflower.

Who designed it?
Last year I went through a full rebranding with a team at Wonderful Machine. This promo was the final piece to my new brand! Karen Yee was my amazing designer throughout the entire rebranding and created the design and concept for this promo. Stacy Swiderski was my editor and helped me select just the right images.

Tell me about the images?
My editor, Stacy and I wanted to make sure that my first large promo showcased the range and variety of my work. With a cohesive style that reaches across my primary disciplines, Food and Still Life / Product Photography, we opted to send each contact a set of both food and lifestyle cards. The images are a mix of personal and commissioned work from the past few years. The images chosen worked well together but could also stand strong on their own.

How many did you make?
100 Complete Box Sets and 20 Individual Card Sets

How many times a year do you send out promos?
This is my first promo! I plan to send one intricate or large promo each year followed by one (or two) smaller promos throughout the year.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
Yes, very much so! It is a break from the constant stream of digital media present in this industry. It also gives me the chance to bring elements and materials into my branding that is not possible with a website, blog, or email campaigns.

The Daily Promo – Lisa Linke

- - The Daily Promo

Lisa Linke now represented by Picture Matters

Regarding the promo:

https://www.prodpi.com/ printed the promos. Their quality is great and I also order the prints for my portfolio book there.

I designed the promo myself, I wanted to make a simple and cost-effective mailer, that the receiver wants to open right away. After making a really involved promo about a year ago, I felt like this was the right idea. Cards are always nice, because you can share a specific image with another creative that caught your eye. Each card has my contact info on it, so that whoever ends up looking at it, can reach out. I didn’t want to show a specific car as an opening image, instead I chose something environmental, that gives an indication on what is inside the envelope, but doesn’t tell too much. To me it was important to not only show the car, but also the surroundings. A car brings you to places and I often forgot to capture where it brought me to, so this time I wanted to show this and make it be part of my mailer.

The shoot itself was really fun and I was excited to share these images with creatives and agencies. But who doesn’t like jumping a truck in the desert?! To me this shoot was more like an adventure than work, an experience I was able to share during portfolio reviews. This adventure included me almost getting bit by a snake, a lot of dust and the most beautiful sunrise I had seen in a long while.

I actually made two different mailers, one with the off-road car and one with a performance car showing the capability of the vehicle to be used on streets as well as on a race track. Not every agency or client does shoots that involve off-roading, so I wanted to make two mailers I could send out to the right people. I made about 30 of each, so 60 total. The ones I had left I used to hand out during meetings.

This is the second mailer I made. I’m trying to send out mailers at least twice a year, simply to remind people of me and keep them posted about special projects.

I think print promos can be really effective. I personally love seeing my work printed, it shows the quality of your work. Even if it doesn’t get you a job right away, people remember you and your work and maybe at some point they get back to you.

The Daily Promo – Carmen Chan

- - The Daily Promo

Carmen Chan

Who printed it?
It was printed by FLASH Reproductions in Toronto. The designer found the printer and FLASH mailed us physical proofs to check color and quality before going to print. We went with them because they were able to accommodate the special binding for a reasonable rate.

Who designed it?
Kati Forner (katiforner.com)
I became a fan of her work via the print spreads she designed for other clients, and felt as though our styles aligned. She also has experience creating photographer’s pieces – coming up with a design language and format that speaks to each photographer’s work is a passion of hers. She started by presenting me with four design concepts (some of which I didn’t choose, she’s shared on her instagram) and explored cover layouts for one of them and then she went ahead with the layout.

Tell me about the images?
The images are an edit of my commercial, editorial, and personal work from the last 1-2 years for clients including WWD, Cereal Magazine, and Marriott Hotels. I sent Kati a wide edit of my favorite work and gave her free reign to make the first edit for the layout. We swapped out a few images after receiving input from a few close friends who are familiar with my body of work. I really liked the pairings we ended up with and the variety in scale and space throughout the piece.

How many did you make?
500. Half of them have been mailed to prospective clients. The rest will go to current clients, friends, and I’ll keep the rest as leave-behinds.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
Last year, I sent out my first promos – a variety of double sided 5×7 postcards. This year, I’m only sending this one. Moving forward, I’ll be sending them once a year.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
It’s nice to be able to share your work in a print piece that is designed in a way that compliments your work, and this piece in particular acts as a mini-portfolio. So I think they can be effective in conjunction with your work being seen elsewhere. A good example of this is a photo rep I recently met with who first saw my work in a magazine, then received my printed promo, then received my e-newsletter and responded to the newsletter asking for a meeting. Then there’s serendipity – the postcard promos that were sent last year were graciously shared on your instagram feed (@aphotoeditor) and John Cogan from GOODNOISE (goodnoisephoto.com) saw it and reached out. We worked on a commercial job together last month that wouldn’t otherwise had come about had I not shared that promo with you. Thank you so much for sharing it!

Jerry Saltz: My Life As a Failed Artist

- - Working

But then I looked back, into the abyss of self-doubt. I erupted with fear, self-loathing, dark thoughts about how bad my work was, how pointless, unoriginal, ridiculous. “You don’t know how to draw,” I told myself. “You never went to school. Your work has nothing to do with anything. You’re not a real artist. Your art is irrelevant. You don’t know art history. You can’t paint. You aren’t a good schmoozer. You’re too poor. You don’t have enough time to make your work. No one cares about you. You’re a fake. You only draw and work small because you’re too afraid to paint and work big.”Every artist does battle, every day, with doubts like these. I lost the battle. It doomed me. But also made me the critic I am today.

Read More: Jerry Saltz: My Life As a Failed Artist

Chris Buck: The Story Behind Newsweek’s Michele Bachmann Cover

- - Working

On August 11, 2011, Newsweek ran a photograph of Congresswoman, GOP presidential candidate, and tea party darling Michele Bachmann that ignited a media firestorm. The image taken on assignment by Chris Buck earned her the nickname, “Crazy Eyes” and marked a turning point as she went from leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination to eventually abandoning the race in 6th place. Newsweek Editor-in-Chief Tina Brown defended the image choice and headline “the Queen of Rage” as merely portraying intensity, but many felt it was unnecessarily unflattering and sexist. In May of 2013, under investigation for ethics violations, Michele Bachmann announced she would not seek re-election in 2014.

The image also marked a turning point for Chris Buck as he had spent the previous year campaigning photo editors to assign him serious political work and this breakthrough image sent him on a path shooting more and more A-List covers in the years to come.

On November 11, 2011, I interviewed Chris about the cover and he was refreshingly candid about how it all went down. Unfortunately, the controversy had just simmered down and Newsweek was afraid to reignite it again, so we shelved the interview. Luckily, Chris has a new retrospective book out titled Uneasy (https://www.chrisbuckuneasy.com/buy-now) and this image is included so we can now tell the story behind the Michele Bachmann cover. I think you’ll find it just as relevant today.

— aPE

Rob Haggart: I want to start with Newsweek calling you to shoot a politician for the cover. That’s not something that probably happens very often with you, is it?

Chris Buck: Let’s go back to the 2008 presidential election, which I felt was such a special time, because the electorate was ignited in a way that I’ve never seen in the years I’d lived in the US. I was upset about having not gotten any of those jobs. So I decided to do whatever I could, to try to get that work for the 2012 cycle.

Rob: What did you do to try and get that work?

Chris: I put up a section on my website of political portraits. Then I made an e-mail newsletter addressing that question specifically. I featured my shoot with William F. Buckley Jr. from 2004 and had the portrait of him plus some funny out-takes. Then I contacted a number of clients more directly who I knew commissioned political shoots, like GQ, New York Magazine, and ultimately Newsweek.

Rob: It worked…

Chris: I have now shot three politicians in this election cycle for different magazines. It’s all very, very last minute. I’m basically given the heads-up a few days ahead and then I just sit around waiting for the phone call where they’re like, “Go to the airport now!” And I rush off to the airport.

Rob: And that’s because of both the approval process and the scheduling?

Chris: There’s no approval process.

Rob: They don’t have people who approve photographers?

Chris: Not that I know of. I would imagine that it could come up as a First Amendment issue if politicians were appearing to pointedly dictate terms to the press.

Rob: It’s not the same as with a celebrity then? I guess I just assumed it was. Ok, how did the assignment go down?

Chris: Newsweek contacted me, the photo editor emailed me saying, “Would you be available for this?” and he said, “It will be either Sunday or Monday, or on the weekend, we’re not sure.” My schedule was open enough. I said, “Yes, just let me know.”

I put the assistant on hold, got together the equipment I needed and just waited. Then, at the last second it was, “Go to Washington. No, no, go to Iowa. No. Go to Washington. No, no. Wait. Wait. Go to Iowa.” In the end I went to Iowa. We were actually in Iowa for a day with the campaign and then went to Washington the next day, which is where the portraits were made. The scheduling was quite chaotic.

Rob: Why do you think Newsweek hired you to shoot Michele Bachmann? Did they want something besides the traditional power portrait for the cover?

Chris: I’m not going to go into detail about my conversations with Newsweek but I think that it’s reasonable to assume that they hired me for what I do. My guess is that they wanted something a little bit more human and vulnerable.

Rob: They said, “Do your thing.”

Chris: We had a more detailed conversation than that because it is a cover. But, yes, they did say something along those lines at some point. Of course I know since it’s a cover I need to get a variety of shots. I feel a professional obligation that I give them some choices, partly, even to surprise me. Maybe it would be something I wouldn’t think of as my first choice and maybe that would be the most interesting thing. You never know.

Rob: Take me to the shoot. You’re in D.C. now.

Chris: Her campaign team were staying at the Willard Hotel; I met up with Ms. Bachmann and her people in their room. They were pushing for me to shoot there but I didn’t want to, I didn’t like the idea that the space I was going to shoot in was also going to be the suite of rooms where they are spending the day doing their business. It just made me uncomfortable. So, I looked around with the hotel staff and found another space to shoot and rented it.

Rob: How much time are they giving you to do the pictures?

Chris: We were told we’d have a half an hour.

Rob: OK, that’s good.

Chris: I didn’t realize how little time politicians often give, but it turns out that wasn’t bad. With Rahm Emanuel for Bloomberg Businessweek, we followed him around for a day, and they were trying to give us 60 seconds at a time for portraits. And I was like, “That just won’t do”. And after three long conversations, they got me a five-minute block, which they considered very generous.

Rob: Wow, OK.

Chris: So half an hour seemed kind of reasonable. If the subject is cooperative and you’ve got time to prepare ahead of time, it’s totally workable.

We had different setups in this suite of rooms. The back room was a small conference room, so we moved the conference table over, and set up the blue backdrop and some lighting. I closed the drapes so I could see what my model lights were doing. It was now a semi-dark mini photo studio.

The candidate came in a little bit late and then we waited a few minutes for the makeup artist. I went over to chat with her and she was really distracted, barely acknowledging that I was standing there. I was kind of surprised, because at the rally she was very engaged with people. And even when I saw her earlier that day, she was relaxed and happy to chat.

Rob: Did you get a sense at all that she didn’t trust you, or didn’t trust Newsweek, that she thought they had an agenda behind what they were doing?

Chris: I didn’t really know what to make of it. I just thought that she had something on her mind, and that once we stepped into the other room that she’d be engaged and it would be all good. But that’s not what happened.

It’s very important that I have a meaningful or even non-meaningful conversation with a subject as we’re going into a shoot. It’s not necessarily that I want my subjects to be super-relaxed, but there is some basic level of decorum. We’re moving into this space and we’re going to work together on this. A portrait is collaboration, and it’s laying the groundwork for that. In doing my reading ahead of time I try to pick up on little details about them and their stories, so that they know that I’ve done my homework, and I’m genuinely immersed in what’s going on. I think it shows in the work too.

So we go in the room, I have her in the frame, and she is very stiff. I said, “I’d like you to relax, and maybe even if you want to gesture a little bit, we can even talk so you can be more relaxed. I want something more animated with more life.” And she said something like, “I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to look foolish for you. I’m not going to gesture in some way that you’re going to capture that’s going to make me look foolish or awkward.”

Rob: [laughs] Holy crap.

Chris: And she said “I’m not going to be portrayed this way by the left-wing media. I’m not going to let the left-wing media frame me in some way that is going to be damaging to me.” I’m paraphrasing, but it was along those lines.

I was shocked, because one, it’s amazing for someone just to speak their mind so directly, but two, we had really just begun. And I was asking for something pretty standard, you know? Not to say that she has to do everything I say, but there are other ways to deflect or refigure something without directly accusing me and my client of trying to disparage her.

She also started talking about how when Obama was running. “He was always portrayed so favorably, and that’s the kind of treatment I want.” I was just… I mean, I didn’t know how to respond to this. And she started talking about specific Time Magazine covers that she thought were unflattering. She mentioned one of Laura Bush. I had never seen this picture, but she described it as a black-and-white picture of the first lady where every pore and line is showing.

And she asks, “that’s not how this lighting is, right? That’s not this kind of lighting?” And I said, “Well, we’ll show you or your representatives a frame so you can see how the lighting looks.” So we did a few frames so we could show her one that might look good.

Rob: So you showed them a frame to try and get her to relax.

Chris: Yes, and basically what I said to her was, look, Newsweek wants a really interesting picture, and you want a picture where you look great. And I kind of did this gesture of two circles in the air. And I said, you know, Newsweek wants this — and then I added one with my other hand — and I said there’s this other circle, and here’s where they overlap – like a quarter of each circle kind of overlaps in the middle. “Let’s find this sweet spot in the middle where you can feel confident about the way you’re portrayed, and they’re going to have a really great, interesting picture. Let’s aim for that.

And she agreed. But as we tried to move towards something I realized that, basically she agreed in theory, her attitude was already set. She was already upset and defensive. One of the things I found surprising about the whole thing that it wasn’t one of her staff who was saying, “We’re hoping we can do something like this with the candidate. Can we start that way at least, and see where we go?” That’s the kind of conversation that usually happens with a handler.

Rob: There are no handlers involved in this?

Chris: Well, there were handlers there, but surprisingly it was the candidate who was fighting her own battle.

Rob: So, you’re four minutes in, the clock is ticking down and you’re arguing with Michele Bachmann. She said, “I’m not giving you anything.” And you’re trying to tell her, “Let’s try and meet in the middle,” and she’s still refusing. So when does this picture happen?

Chris: I’m shooting and talking, it’s just a photographer’s instinct, you don’t stop shooting, at least not entirely. Of course, part of my thinking is “I’ve got to get something.”

Rob: And snap, you took the picture. Amazing. So she basically came in super defensive and said “I’m not going to give you anything,” and as she was saying that the picture that you made is the one…?

Chris: I’m not 100% sure, because I’m shooting as we’re talking. But looking at it, clearly she has either just finished talking or she is about to talk.

Rob: Incredible. Then what?

At a certain point her people are like, “Look, she needs to get back on to the Hill to do a vote. We need to leave in 10 minutes.” I’ve learned to be stubborn about protecting the time I’ve been promised because people will happily take that away from you. I said, “Look, you’re not ready to do this. You should leave. Go do your vote. Go do whatever obligations you have. And I hope you can come back later, maybe in an hour and a half, two hours or whatever, and we can do this right. Think about how you might want to do this in a way that we can both be happy.”

Rob: Wow. So you sent her away because she’s not giving you what you need.

Chris: My feeling is it’s much better to come in positive but cautious than to come in negative and defensive. No one looks good when they’re saying, “I don’t trust you.”

Rob: OK, so take me through the second session. What happened?

Chris: I’ve worked out some locations that her handler felt would help the candidate relax. I was wary about shooting outside because it gives us less control, and it sucks up time, but he felt that she’d be more relaxed in a real-world environment. He said that the room with the blue background, because it was small and dark, spooked her.

So that’s what we did first when she first came back, and clearly they had spoken with her and she was much more relaxed. Plus, she had gotten some of her duties out of the way and her schedule was less pressed. Some of the pictures from this next section are much more relaxed, and she looks great.

We shot there a bit, but I wasn’t really liking what I was getting. I was feeling like, for both my client and for myself, that these were looking like PR pictures.

Rob: Right. They’re not cover pictures.

Chris: I still needed to get something that was a great portrait for Newsweek and hopefully point towards something really interesting as a photographer for me. So, we went to this semi-rooftop of the building, and we did some more outdoor shots there. She was a little bit more relaxed but her hair wasn’t looking so great. She had already had a long day and she’s a little distracted now, and some of these pictures don’t have the same kind of focus as earlier. Then we went down to the oval room, and we shot maybe a dozen frames and that was it. But it was really a shame, if they’d given us another 20 minutes; I think we could have found that sweet spot that would have been a great Newsweek picture as well as something that she would have felt more comfortable with.

Rob: So when you’re doing your edit and you see this picture, are you thinking, “Yeah, that’s a Chris Buck shot”?

Chris: I turned in 21 images and I think we did five different set-ups, so I handed in a mix from two frames to five frames from each scenario. I had three favorites. The one that became the cover, the one in that Oval Room that became an inside picture, and then the one I showed as an outtake on my blog.

By the way, one thing I’ll mention to you, is that I did something I almost never do, which is when the shoot was done I let the handler who was there hang around and look over our shoulders a little bit while we were looking at the material. I wanted him to know that what I had said before was genuine, that I really was trying to find a place that both the candidate and the magazine could be happy.

Rob: So he saw all the pictures?

Chris: We didn’t sit and specifically walk him through the pictures because the last thing I want is for him to say something like, “That picture is something I don’t like. I’d rather you not use it.” But he knew perfectly well he wasn’t there to influence the edit.

Rob: So Newsweek orders the high res…

Chris: They order four high res: the praying shot, the one that became the cover, the oval room picture, and then one at the rally.

Rob: Did you know that this shot was going to be the cover?

Chris: No, when he gave me the image order, he said, “We might come back and ask for more.” In fact, on Friday night, he came back and asked for two more. And one of them was one of the rooftop shots and one of them was another shot from the blue background set-up.

I was a little worried because those shots were more conventional and less interesting to me, I was really pleased with their initial edit and I told them so. A lot of people assume that the edit was entirely Newsweek’s doing and ultimately what ran was their choices, but I know if I include something in my edit, it could be used. I stand by my edit.

Rob: Did you have any idea of the controversy that would come after running this picture on the cover?

Chris: I did have some idea, but the scale of it was larger than I expected. They released the cover to the media on Sunday night, so I Googled, “Newsweek Bachmann cover” and already it was on “Gawker” or a site like that. They sent out a pretty high res pdf of the cover. So sites were blowing it up really big, just on the face, and it was already being talked about as being like a controversial cover. Let’s just say, I didn’t sleep very well that night.

Rob: [laughs] You didn’t?

Chris: No.

Rob: Really? You were distressed?

Chris: I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand, I was pleased they picked a really interesting picture. But at the same time, I’m a human; ultimately I would love it if people liked the pictures I take of them. It’s not my first thought, it’s not my first obligation, but I’m human. I prefer they like it, than not like it. And I understood that she was unlikely to be happy with this choice.

Rob: Then you must battle with that constantly because I can’t imagine ever hiring Chris Buck and not trying to get some kind of moment like that.

Chris: I’m not saying that it’s not fair and that it’s not reasonable. I included it in the edit not only because I think it’s interesting but because on some level I feel that it captures something of who she is, something of her character and something of her campaign. It was one of the most intense and aggressive photo shoots that I’ve ever experienced in my career. So in a way, she helped make this portrait happen. The edit reflects the environment in the room; it conveys the intensity of the session.

Rob: And that’s what makes it an amazing story, but also understand that doing that is what makes you Chris Buck, what makes you a unique photographer. I can name a dozen photographers that will shoot a heroic portrait no matter what happens in the room and so it’s just how you approach photography. It’s who you are. It’s also what makes you an interesting choice, for Newsweek and any other magazine shooting politicians.

Chris: Thanks. I find it surprising that the media is quite happy to write about politicians as being flawed and yet when doing portraits sittings they seem hesitant to go down that line. They kind of fall into the convention of doing the power portrait instead of doing something that might be a little more challenging.

Rob: And, as far as your body of work goes, without the controversy that this cover created does it stand up on its own with the other pictures that you’ve made?

Chris: Oh, absolutely. One of the things I really like about this is that the two pictures I was best known for before this were the one with Steve Martin with the bread hands and the Citibank ad where the dog has fake teeth, so this being my best-known picture is something I’m much more comfortable with. It shows a little awkwardness.

People ascribe an anti-Republican or anti-Bachmann thing to me because of the impact it had in the culture, but it’s not how I feel about it. As a portrait, I stand by it. I don’t champion the right or the left; it’s not the point of this. The point was, as a photographer, to do good work for my client, to make interesting work for the public, and also to reflect, from a subjective viewpoint, what she might be about.

Photographer’s on-set note book for the Michele Bachmann session. Note “throw punch.”

Representative Bachmann accused Buck of submitting a light test for the Newsweek cover. This is the actual light test frame.

Chris Buck’s portrait of Michele Bachmann, as it appears in his 30 year retrospective UNEASY.

Buck’s favorite frame from the Bachmann sitting.

Portfolio Visit To New York – Tom M Johnson

- - From The Field

I asked Tom M Johnson to write about a recent portfolio trip to NYC. I think you’ll enjoy this informative and candid account of his 7th trip to meet with editors and show his portfolio in person.
— aPE

Initially, I thought I’d write a day-to-day summary of my recent New York trip to meet with Photo Editors. Rather, I’ve opted to write a summary of the experience. I believe the trip went well. Of course, exact success will not be known for some time. If 6 months go by and not one commission results from the trip, I’ll probably feel the trip was unsuccessful. Yet, I will not consider it a failure and waste of money because in my career I’ve come to learn success comes in small rather steps. The ultimate of course would be to receive a couple of calls in next couple of months offering assignments. However, I believe I benefited from the trip by nurturing previous relationships and developing a few more. I was fortunate enough to meet with a couple of editors I’ve been trying to see for a few years and believe those meetings went very well. I feel positive about this trip, because (since 1997 this was my 7th trip to New York) I was never more prepared. Of course my work is much better now, and after all these years one would hope, so I entered these meetings with more confidence and greater conviction. Yet, I believe the biggest reason for my success was the preparation I did in advance, which began a month before stepping on the Amtrak train to New York.

I must give some credit to Selina Maitreya because she helped me to create a strategy. Selina is a consultant I’ve worked with off and on since 2002. She knows me well, and I’m not just her client- we are also friends. I’ve had a few consultants over the years and gotten something from all of them, yet some were definitely better than others. Of them all, I believe Selina invests more of herself, and she truly cares for her clients… With her council, a month before my departure I sent an email blast to the 120 New York photo editors in my database. In the email, I announced that in a month I would be coming to New York to see clients and while there I would be making appointments and contacting them soon. Attached to the email was a cool image from a recent assignment for the New York Times along with links to my website. I liken this approach to an invasion like D-Day where I first hit them with artillery to soften up the beachhead before landing. To my pleasant surprise I had 5 replies from editors who had seen the photograph in the Times, and a few of them offered times for appointments… 2 weeks later I sent a second email with another image attached, this time specifying the dates I would be in New York, and that I would be in touch with them soon. A couple of more editors replied offering appointments… Then 10 days before departure I sent a 3rd email again with another image attached, this time telling them I would be calling them shortly.

The week before departing I called all 120 editors. Photo Editors move from magazine to magazine, so this also gave me an opportunity to update my database. Mostly I heard voicemails, yet I left messages announcing that I’d be in New York and looked forward to seeing them. I followed each call with a 4th email, this time directed to the photo editor I had just called with a specific pitch. Of all the editors I reached out to I made actual contact with, either by phone or email, about 25. I ultimately met with 17. It reminded me of what a salesman once told me, “You call 100 people, maybe 10 will speak with you, and out of that 10 hopefully one will do business with you.”

I am convinced that face time is paramount, yet these days it’s difficult to get appointments with Photo Editors. For one, more than ever, magazines are fighting for their survival. I met with Fiona Gardner, former Photo Editor of Popular Photography, at a coffee shop because Popular Photography and American Photo had recently closed their doors. Staffs at many magazines have been reduced and their workloads increased, and let’s face it: if Photo Editors saw every photographer who wanted to meet with them, all they would do is see photographers. Then there are a few big editors whom my chances of having a one on one with the Pope are greater than meeting with one of them. Yet, even knowing all of this, I forced myself to be vigilant and persistently continued making my calls. Some disagree, but I believe cold calling is an important part of the process because talking with someone establishes a connection and lets them know that I am determined. Even if it’s only for a brief 30 seconds, I feel a Photo Editor will remember my name more so than if I had sent him or her 10 emails. It’s difficult and often scary, especially with New Yorkers who can be terse and immune to charm, yet with practice, cold calling gets less difficult. But it’s still never easy, and because 90 percent of the calls result in voice mails when I finally do get a Photo Editor on the phone- it’s difficult to get into the rhythm of my pitch. And, trying to find that right tone of confidence is not unlike back in the day calling that special girl for a date. What’s really frustrating is after having finally succeeded in getting an editor on the phone, most would terminate the call requesting that I send, even though by this time I had already sent them 5, an email with links to my work. This I find a challenge to work around. For most editors, this is their polite way of getting rid of me. They have no intention of making an appointment, and I’m unsure if they will ever look at the 6th email I send them. While I have them on the phone I’m always tempted to push them to make an appointment, and I suppose this is where hutzpah and confidence are most needed. Because, if I push them to make an appointment and they grudgingly acquiesce, what happens if they don’t like my work?

A month before the trip I got the idea to buy a suit for my interviews. Not wanting to look like a banker, I skipped the tie. I’m older and a bit old school, so I believe this was my way of presenting myself as a serious and dedicated photographer, as well as someone whom the editors could trust to send on an assignment to photograph a CEO. Also, I showed 3 bodies of printed work displayed in custom portfolios, 2 of them made by Mullenburg Designs based near Portland, Maine. It was a royal pain in the ass to schlep this load of work via subways and a ton of walking from appointment to appointment, but I felt it was worth it. At the end of the day, the weight took its toll on my knees and back, yet I don’t see the point of showing work on an iPad when the editor can just as easily view the work on the website… After several years of trying I finally connected with this one photo editor on the phone who works for a business magazine at Time Inc. I told him that I was in New York and dying to see him, so he told me to call him back the next day to set up an appointment. I did and got a voice mail and of course, he never replied. Well, that very next day I was on his floor in the Time Inc. building, and I was so tempted to walk around the floor asking anyone I bumped into if they knew where I could find him. But I didn’t, and I’m still kicking myself for chickening out…

My goal was 15 appointments and I ended up seeing 17 Photo Editors in 4 days. Success! I could have had a few more but one editor of a major journal canceled my appointment an hour before we were to meet, much too late to hustle another meeting during that time slot. As well, by not getting the chance to see her I missed the opportunity of perhaps seeing some of her colleagues… Overall, I felt that my interviews went well; the editors seemed interested in my work, and no one told me I sucked. Once back in Pittsburgh I wrote all the editors I met with thank you letters included with another promo piece. In a couple of months, I’ll send them all another promo, with email blasts in between, all part of my marketing strategy.

Though I still believe making trips to New York is important, I wonder if the day will soon come when magazines will be not unlike darkrooms. I learned from one photo editor of a successful fashion/hipster magazine that although their feature photo spreads of young hot celebrities photographed by young hot photographers with Instagram followings in the hundreds of thousands get millions of likes and shares, yet few click on the articles to read the text and see the advertising that pays for the magazine to stay in business. I met with another editor of one of the most famous celebrity/fashion magazines in the business and she told me that they have to come up with the same quality of productions with ½ the budgets. As well, I heard that 2 of the business magazines at Time Inc. are consolidating, which means there will soon be some more unemployed Photo Editors. When the millennials want to view everything on their smartphones without paying a fee, who will pay for the providers of the content?

This Week In Photography Books: Eric Etheridge

by Jonathan Blaustein

Remember when people used to talk about the 24 hour news cycle?

How quaint.

These days, we’ve got a 60/60/24/7/365 news cycle, brought to you by the fine folks at Twitter, Facebook, Google, etc.

Personally, I don’t submit to the Borg all the time. I jump off email and social media each night at 5pm, and take the weekends off as well, so I avoid losing myself in the endlessness of it all.

Because it never. ever. stops.

There’s so much out there that I’m just as likely to get a sense of things during my “work hours,” as there is still plenty of time to look for memes and CULTURALLY SIGNIFICANT TWEETS.

For instance:

Just since Friday, we’ve had the American professor in Korea who got interrupted by his adorable kids during his BBC Skype interview. At first, he knocked his daughter back like he was Frank Costanza reaching across at a jarring traffic stop.

His wife came in, trying to be stealthy like a ninja, but the camera caught it all. At first, the guy was criticized for being a grump, instead of taking his child on his lap and making light of the whole thing.

Then, media scrutiny switched to the people who’d mistakenly assumed the Asian woman was his nanny, not his wife.

Is that racist?

If not, I know something that is definitely racist. Steve King, a sitting US Congressman from Iowa, tweeted that he couldn’t wait for America to become homogenous, as foreign babies were ruining civilization.

His tweet was received enthusiastically by more overt scumbags, like David Duke and Richard Spencer. Then Representative King doubled-down, (rather than retracting,) and stressed that Western Civilization was superior to all others.

Not to be outdone, Kellyanne Conway may or may not have said that Barack Obama spied on Donald Trump with microwaves.

And finally, today, Jorg Colberg tweeted an article, which I promptly read, in which a British cultural critic named Adam Curtis persuasively argued that art was no longer rebellious, in any way, as its ethos of personal expression had so perfectly been absorbed by the insatiable beast that is Global International Capitalism.

It was a good piece, and got me thinking a bit, as I often wonder if so much of what I do, with my writing and photographic work, isn’t just preaching to the crowd.

Even photography itself, once a specific habit, has been appropriated across the globe by EVERYONE.

Is art still relevant, if it’s only used to trumpet individual voices, one at a time in a sea of noise, as everyone else now has platforms to scream ME ME ME ME ME simultaneously?

I’m glad you asked. (Seriously, that was an astute question.)

I’m feeling pretty good about art, right now, having just put down “Cocoon” a new book that documents a public sculpture done by Kate Browne in the Goutte D’Or neighborhood in Paris, back in 2014.

This one came in not too long ago, as the photographer, Eric Etheridge, (Ms. Browne’s husband,) saw my review of the book that Matthew Chase-Daniel and Jerry Wellman made from their public art project on the Navajo Nation.

He noticed similarities, and hoped I might like his collaborative book as well.

Eric, you were right. This was the perfect book for me to see today.

The gist is that Kate Browne has engaged in a series of public art projects in places with fraught, violent histories. There were Cocoons in Mexico City, on the site where the Aztecs were vanquished by the Spanish, and two in Mississippi that investigated the dark history of Slavery and Jim Crow.

This endeavor was done in Goutte d’Or, a historically North African, Parisian neighborhood that has become a way station for many on the contemporary European Refugee Circuit.

The artist builds communities during her projects, while engaging those same communities in the construction of her sculptures. She offers workshops, and other programs, that reach directly into the neighborhood, and teaches people how to make their own little cocoons, personal talismen, to represent difficulties in their pasts.

There is a section of the book that is almost exactly what Matthew and Jerry did, as residents are photographed in a white, studio environment, holding their personal totems. How wild, that two ideas took hold on opposite sides of the world.

But that’s only a small part of this book, as there are opening essays, including two by local community organizers, and it ends with a litany of direct interviews from project participants, describing their racial and cultural pasts.

Essentially, this book refutes the idea that art is only about yelling “hey look at me” in an obnoxious echo chamber. There are countless artists out there who work with others to build teams. To enhance society. To make a difference in people’s lives.

I wrote last week about that famously Chinese ending in “Hero,” in which the greater good is presented as noble, and duty paramount, while individual desire appears sinful in context. That used to give me the willies, as I thought it meant that China intended to rule the world.

Now, though, I’ve begun to wonder whether America isn’t wounded, as it’s become so much harder for people to work together, or even get along, across the partisan divide.

I don’t want to end on a negative thought, though. One defining feature of the Cocoon series is that the sculptures, like their namesake, are temporary. After a public procession at the end of its construction, the Cocoon is lit up, enjoyed for 2 days, and then struck from the scene.

This book serves as proof of its existence. True. But if you read these stories, and look at the vibrance in the photographs, it’s clear that the Cocoon project strengthened a group of marginalized people, if only for a little while.

Bottom Line: Cool book that documents an inspiring, collaborative, public art project in Paris

The Art of the Personal Project: Kris Davidson

Personal Projects are crucial in showing potential buyers how you think creatively on your own. I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or show something I have never seen before. In this revised column, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: projects are found and submissions are not accepted.

Today’s Featured Artist: Kris Davidson

Walter as Nat King Cole (Love is the Thing)

Sasha and the Confederate Colonel

Swamp Thing, French Quarter street performer in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Antoinette, a slave genealogist, performing a commemoration for her ancestors in Kentwood, Louisiana.

Jesus Love You, God Love You, I Love you – house in New Orleans, Louisiana.

http://www.krisdavidson.com/PROJECTS/IN-THE-SOUTHERN-GARDEN/thumbs

KRIS DAVIDSON // PROJECT STATEMENT // In the Southern Garden
MEDIUM:  20”x 24” and 30”x 40”prints on archival matte paper. 
SUMMARY: In the Southern Garden is a photographic study of how history lives on in the American South; primarily a portrait series, the project depicts southerners from all walks of life wearing their history

“The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.” — Marcus Tullius Cicero

In the Southern Garden is an exploration of how individual identity and everyday life continue to unfold in the American South, a place where the past is always present and constantly in a state of revision by the people who tell and re-tell their stories over time. Using a 4×5 view camera, the image-making process is slow, deliberate and collaborative. This project looks at how Southerners understand and wear their own history. 

The American South is lush, green and dominated still by vast expanses of the arable land that gave rise to a slave economy. The idea of a garden serves as a metaphor for the nature of memory, which is seeded and cultivated, and yet, grows wildly when left untended.  The portraits are typically made in garden settings, farming areas or in nature. Some of the portraits feature subjects directly referencing their embraced history (such as Confederate re-enactors or Harriet Tubman) while others are more subtle in every-day dress. It is in bringing all of these portraits together, that history conflates, strangely revealing parallels and intersections of the African-American and white narratives. Every subject is treated with respect. Every subject is an American.

The American South is a place that is tragic, strong, graceful, insolent, optimistic, beautiful, conservative yet wild — teeming with memories that are overgrown and intertwined like untended foliage along the banks of the Mississippi River.

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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 establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty. Follow her at @SuzanneSease.

The Art of the Personal Project: Vincent Dixon

- - Working

Personal Projects are crucial in showing potential buyers how you think creatively on your own. I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or show something I have never seen before. In this revised column, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: projects are found and submissions are not accepted.

Today’s featured artist: Vincent Dixon

To see more: http://vincentdixon.com/wanderings/category/The+Train+Ride/

In 2011/12 I took a year off to travel around South East Asia and South America with my wife and four children. 

We had been on the road three months when we crossed the border from Nepal to India. I was nervous, I didn’t really know what to expect but had heard from other travelers that India was pretty chaotic. Just crossing the border conformed that. The station wasn’t much better, finding which platform our train was using wasn’t easy. We had been warned that people will always give you an opinion whether they know the answer or not. The 10 pm train was delayed, first for an hour, then two, it finally came to the station four hours late having apparently switched platforms several times. We boarded to find a family asleep in our bunks, gently woken they moved and I took a wet wipe to the top bunk, one swipe and the imprint of my hand was black, Ainlay my wife distracted the kids as I cleaned all the beds, we put our sneakers  on top of the old electric fans as we saw everyone else do, used our backpacks as pillows and got a few hours sleep. When I woke up I took some photos.
http://www.briteproductions.net/vincent-dixon

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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 establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty. Follow her at @SuzanneSease.

Brian Clamp Interview

- - Art

Brian Clamp is the founder and director of the NYC Photo gallery ClampArt. Last summer, he was kind enough to take some time to share thoughts on the state of the gallery industry. Since we spoke, his new gallery space has opened at 247 West 29th Street in Manhattan.

Jonathan Blaustein: How’s the summer treating you in New York City?

Brian Clamp: It’s been weirdly hot. I’ve been in New York for, god, I don’t even know, 23 years? This was one of the hottest summers I ever remember, so it’s been interesting.

JB: Is the baking garbage smell on every corner in Manhattan?

BC: I haven’t noticed that so much, but we have been moving the gallery, so we’ve actually been out in the heat quite a bit. It’s just been brutal.

JB: Right. It’s hard because nobody likes to see you sweat, but in that weather with that humidity, most people really don’t have a say in the matter.

BC: Exactly.

JB: You and I spoke in Houston and you told me you were moving the gallery. You were in Chelsea which had been the pure epicenter of the New York City gallery industry. You were there for a long time, right?

BC: We’ve been in Chelsea since 2000, but we were in the same building from 2003 to 2016. We were one of the first galleries in the building, so we really got to see the neighborhood grow and develop over that time.

The building that we were in had four different owners while we were there, so it just kept changing hands. We had to sit back and adapt to each new owner and the new ideas they had. In the beginning, it was really a wonderful time, but it’s amazing how different the neighborhood is now than it was 14 years ago.

JB: I saw you in Santa Fe last year, and at that time you told me that Target had moved into your gallery’s building on 25th Street?

BC: That was one of the main problems we had. Target took over the entire second floor of the building for their design offices, but they demanded a private entrance, so the landlord completely threw us under the bus and closed our entrance to the street. It made it much harder to find your way into the back part of the building, where we were located.

Obviously, Target was paying a lot more rent than we were paying, so the landlord was willing to do whatever they asked. That made life much more difficult.

But in addition to Target above us, we had Tesla on one side of us and then a baby clothing company down the hall.

A building that once had been all galleries was not-so-slowly transforming into one for corporate tenants. So we were just seeing a repeat of what happened in SoHo in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

JB: Right. Well, that makes more sense because for the life of me, I couldn’t understand how they had a retail Target in a gallery building, but now you’re telling me it was offices. Ever since then, I thought, “How the hell do they have a Target, with all those shopping carts?” But they didn’t.

BC: Well, the second floor were all design offices, but then they took over the biggest ground floor space, which used to the Cue Arts Foundation. They use that enormous ground floor storefront space for events and parties that they host maybe once or twice a month, and the rest of the time it just sits there empty.

So they do have a ground floor presence, but it’s just not really used all that often.
The other thing is that when we moved out, our rent was nearly being doubled, and in my mind I was saying, well good luck finding anyone who’s ever going to pay that kind of price for this back hall space with no direct access to the street.

But, then it seemed as though Target was going to take over our old space and turn it into a conference room. (Last I heard they backed out, and the space is still sitting empty.)

JB: I think our readers probably know this, but outside of a handful of mega-art dealers who are corporations in and of themselves, galleries like yours, like ClampArt, are small businesses. You were a small business…

BC: Exactly.

JB: …competing for retail space with Target. That’s essentially what you’re telling me.

BC: Yeah. Exactly.

JB: You can’t sell enough prints to do that. You can’t possibly sell enough pieces of photo paper to compete with Target.
It’s impossible.

BC: Well, yes—so what’s happening is probably within five years’ time, we’re not going to really see many mid-size and small galleries left in Chelsea. It mainly will be just the mega-galleries who own their real estate – they’ll be the only people left standing.

JB: It seems like that’s just the parallel with what we’re seeing in a lot of the economy: the rich getting richer. It sounds like your industry is in a bit of a crisis. Is that a fair way to put it? Or is that too dramatic?

BC: Yeah, I think you kind of hit the nail on the head. It’s like we’ve been witnessing this ever-increasing income divide in this country. In the art world, people who are that top one percent have more money than ever, and they’re willing to pay whatever price they need to get the top of the top.

So the very high end of the market was doing exceedingly well for a good while there, whereas anything underneath that was much more difficult. And even people who are wealthy and well off, but maybe not the one percent, are probably being much more conservative with spending since the recession than they had been prior to that time.

So generally things haven’t really bounced back as the economy has continued to improve.

JB: You’ve been a gallery owner in New York since 2000. But you’re from Colorado, if I recall.

BC: Yep.

JB: So you’ve been fighting the fight there in New York for a long time, and really, people know your place. You’re respected in the industry, from what I can tell. But you’re telling us straight up that the train is off the tracks a little bit?

BC: Yeah. Or just still radically changing.
In making this decision to move out of that building where we had been for 14 years, there were a lot of things to think about: the viability, the feasibility of the brick-and-mortar space, versus a lot of galleries who have decided just to go online and shop their wares around at art fairs as much as they can.

Ultimately, we decided actually to expand in a new neighborhood with faith that here in New York City, at least, there are still enough devoted art collectors to be able to support the gallery and our artists. But it is a risky speculation, especially as compared to 15 years ago.

JB: So this idea that a gallery might not have a physical space – and I guess you partially explained it by saying that they’re still showing at art fairs, but it seems like, for as long as there have been gallery/artist relationships, the implicit deal was that a gallery offered a space for public exhibition.

The dealer offers the artist the opportunity to engage with the public, which puts a lot of pressure on the gallery to have that space. So now you’re saying some people are walking away from that core tenet?

BC: Yeah. The ability of an artist to mount a full solo show in a gallery setting, to communicate their ideas to an art audience, is still extremely important. But that’s really, in this day and age, being sacrificed quite a bit.

Artists have to be satisfied with just showing maybe one or two or three pieces in the context of an art fair booth with several other artists. Sometimes galleries do show work by just one artist, however, at fairs like Volta.

But more often than not, it’s just a smattering of work by many people in one booth, which will never be the ideal way for an artist to present their work and try to communicate their ideas.

That’s the direction the market has taken, so if artists want their work to be seen at all, and certainly if they want their works to be sold, then they’re agreeing to those realities as the market changes.

JB: And even in this changing market, where we’re talking about essentially less opportunities, not more, is it fair to say that there are as many people desperate for your attention and trying to get your interest as there have ever been? Or are there more people chasing you down? Anecdotally, how do you feel about that?

BC: I would say that that just continues to increase. The number of graduates from BFA and MFA programs feels like it continues to rise, so there are still more and more artists who are looking for gallery representation.

This has always been the case, but maybe more so now than ever. There are just many more artists than there are buyers to support them. And so it does put a lot of pressure on the galleries in the middle.

JB: I’ve been telling this to people for years, frankly. A lot of the people that we canonize, that we lionize in the history as great as they might have been, at the time that they were out there clicking the shutter, there were so few people doing this.

And now we’re talking about tens of thousands of trained fine art photographers, all trying to compete for a handful of spaces that might open up in the big galleries in New York in a given year.

The odds are awful. It doesn’t, to me, seem like a safe way to expect to make any money. And yet, more and more kids are going into huge debt just to play this game. It seems very unsustainable to me, but like I said, I’m sitting a horse pasture in New Mexico, so my opinion is probably less valid than yours.

BC: Not true.

JB: Well, thank you.

BC: You’re 100 percent correct. Like when you look at it in a historical context, the art world was a much smaller place back then than it is now. And that’s changed radically over the past 20 years, for sure.

JB: So what do you do when you talk to students? I know you’ve given lectures. How do you disabuse people of these ideas without trying to sound like a buzz-kill?

BC: Discouraging – yeah. I mean, one thing to stress is the fact that even artists that do have gallery representation – most of them have some sort of second means of income, whether they’re teaching or working at a lab or doing commercial work.

So, to be realistic is important. The idea that you can support yourself solely from the sale of your fine artwork is pretty idealistic, until you’re pretty well into your career. It takes a lot of time to get to that point, so be prepared for that fact when you graduate so it doesn’t take you by surprise.

JB: Let’s use what you just said as an example. The people who are maybe 25 years in and showing a few different places. I know you’re probably not exclusive with your artists. What do you think it takes to actually succeed in a very difficult marketplace, both on your end as the gallery and on the artist’s end? What does it take to actually bust through and persevere?

BC: That’s probably one of the most important things: perseverance. You do have to be aggressive, and you have to persevere in order to make it happen.

But, honestly, you also have to be smart and have good ideas. The artwork itself is what initially speaks for you, and so if the quality of the work is not there in the first place, then you’re not going to get anywhere else.

Then, like we were just saying, there are a lot of probably wonderful artists who are producing strong, relevant, interesting work who maybe haven’t gotten anywhere. That’s where the other things come in like perseverance, aggressiveness.

JB: What attracts you?

BC: Ability.

JB: We’ve already established that everybody wants your attention, so what gets your attention? What kind of work, either stylistically or conceptually, tends to impress you?

BC: I meet with younger artists all the time, and we show a lot of emerging work in our gallery. I’m seeing what’s coming out of the BFA and MFA programs, particularly on the East coast.

It’s got to be a breath of fresh air, something that’s not just rehashing work by a well-known artist. Something original and new.

I’m interested in all kinds of photography and multi-media work, from figurative and portraiture to abstract work, from still imagery to video, and our gallery shows a wide variety of those things, too. We’re kind of heavy on figurative and portraiture, and that reflects my own personal taste. But for a well-balanced roster, you need to have a little smattering of everything.

JB: Do you spend a lot of time, when you look at work, thinking about the particular collectors who support you who might like something? Do you feel compelled to bring on work just because you think your buyers will like it? Or is that not a strong consideration, and you just go with your own gut?

BC: The initial consideration, first and foremost, is entirely personal. Is it something that I relate to? Is it something that interests me?

Then, if it passes that hurdle, yeah. You start to consider other things. Do I think that I have a clientele that would appreciate this work? Or could I build a clientele that would appreciate it?

How does this relate to the other artists who are already on my roster? You have to be sure that it’s perhaps not too similar to something you’re already showing. Maybe it fills in a hole that hasn’t yet been covered. So those considerations come later…

Then you look at a person’s CV and check out where they studied, who they studied under, if they have shown their work much to this point? What sort of exhibitions were they included in—were they group shows or solo shows? And then you start to think deeper.

JB: Typically, when we go to these portfolio reviews, they often describe them as speed dating. And yet, anecdotally at least, I think most photographers want a handshake at the end of 20 minutes, a kiss on the cheek, and a contract, which of course, isn’t going to happen.

But do you find that there is typically a slow-build with the things that you’re interested in, like you’ll meet somebody and then a year or two will go by and you’ll see them again or you’ll get an e-mail blast? Would you confirm that it’s a slow process? Or do you think sometimes you just know right away and then things move quickly?

BC: Much more often than not, a meeting at a portfolio review is the very beginning of a more long-term process, sort of like planting the seeds for what will grow and bloom much further down the road. There might be exceptions to that, but typically, it is a slow burn and a long process.

You might realize that, yeah, I like this person’s work. I like this person’s personality. And you continue to stay in touch and keep an eye on what they’re doing, what shows their work gets into, if they’re winning any residencies or grants, and just continue to touch base until maybe you have ideas for what to do with their work, or you have clientele you think would be interested.

And then you go from there. Sometimes, from the point of meeting someone at a portfolio review until the time that they get a solo show at my gallery, it’s been as long as five or six years.

JB: Right. Speaking of all these same issues, we talked about rising rents in New York and, again, you made the comparison to SoHo.

I just saw a headline in the paper the other day or on Twitter. I didn’t bother reading the article, which was about some neighborhood kicking out a pair of social practice artists because they didn’t want to start gentrification.

There are a lot of complicated issues surrounding gentrification, and how that can change a neighborhood. (The high-line and all that.) But setting that aside, what about the internet? How drastically has the internet changed your ability to do your job?

BC: It’s changed it 100 percent. In many ways, it’s fantastic. The reach that a medium-sized gallery in New York has is far better than it’s ever been. However, then it changed the market, like I said, for a lot of galleries who may not have brick-and-mortar spaces, who are working just completely online, which has its own ramifications.

JB: But why?

BC: It also kind of changes the relationship between artists and their collectors.

JB: That’s where I was going.

BC: There are a lot more collectors who really just want to deal with artists directly. If they start changing the structure of the business, are our art galleries really serving the same role? Are they as needed and necessary as they used to be?

Certainly there are a lot of artists that want to concentrate on producing work, and they don’t want to be dealing with marketing and sales and shipping and insurance and all of those things. But there are other artists who get a charge out of having direct contact with their collectors, and so it’s something complicated for everybody to work out.

JB: Obviously, you’re not somebody who feels that way because you’re making a bigger space and you’re growing and doing well, though we’re not asking about numbers.

I’m starting to get the sense that, as much as every photographer wants a gallery, if the galleries don’t have physical spaces and the collectors can e-mail you and ask to buy a picture – that’s kind of why I used the word “crisis” earlier on. I’m wondering if the entire model isn’t bound to change? I thought you’d be very well positioned to speculate on that.

BC: Yeah.

JB: Is it all going to change?

BC: I think it has been changing. An artist has to question how much of that responsibility they would be willing to take on. And then perhaps if they have just an online gallery representing their work, is the standard 50/50 cut still appropriate in that situation?

That’s something I encourage a lot of artists to think about—especially if they’re already selling well directly from their studio. Do they really need to enter a relationship like that?

Artists need to weigh the pros and cons. I would hope that the artists we represent realize what a gallery brings to the table, but for other kinds of artists and other kinds of work, then it may be perfectly appropriate to sell directly from the studio.

JB: Can you tell us a little bit about the new space, since we’ve mentioned that you’re expanding and moving? Where are you going to be exactly? And what’s it going to look like?

BC: We’re going to be on 29th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues, which is still technically part of Chelsea, but that area of Manhattan has a lot of different names. It’s the flower district, the fur district, and also the garment district.

JB: Near Penn Station.

BC: And it’s close to what used to be called Tin Pan Alley, which is just a little farther east. It’s only two avenues from where we had been located for 14 years, but two avenues in Manhattan can make a world of difference.

It’s a neighborhood with a totally different feel, but still, right now, it really is under transition, too, like a lot of other places. There’s a lot of construction around where we’re going to be, with a trendy gastro pub right across the street, but still certainly a lot of furriers left, too.

There’s also a high-end lighting store on the block, and an art supply store. So it’s still a big mix of things. It’s interesting to see what direction that’s going to take.

JB: Yeah, we all know at the rate NYC changes, you don’t know what a neighborhood will be like in five years.

BC: The exciting thing is those two avenues made a world of difference in terms of price. So for around the same amount of money, we’re getting a storefront with three floors and 19-foot ceilings. There’ll be a mezzanine that overlooks the main gallery with a private office and viewing room.

We’re going to be able to spread out a bit, and it’s going to change the way we’re able to show the work by the artists we represent, which will be a lot more fun.

When you’re in the same space for a long time, you sometimes wonder if things start to become formulaic because you know what works and what doesn’t. So it’s going to be exciting experimenting with a totally different layout and seeing how things shake out.

JB: What’s the opening show? Do you have that planned? (Ed note: again, this interview was conducted last summer, so the opening exhibition has already transpired.)

BC: The opening show will be the fifth exhibition at our gallery by an artist named Marc Yankus. We’ve shown his work for a long time, but he’s got a new series that he’s ready to unveil.

He’s one of our most popular artists, and I’m excited about the direction his photography has taken recently.

JB: Mid-October – gotcha. Sometimes when we do these interviews, I warm up very slowly and talk about people’s backgrounds. You and I have known each other for a long time, so I kind of skipped that, but it is fun sometimes to just hear where the bug came from.

How did you fall in love with photography? And what brought you to the place that you’re at now?

BC: I didn’t have any sort of background in art or art history until the second semester of my senior year of high school. For some reason, and I’m still not even sure why, I decided to take a photography course.

I had one extra elective, so on a whim, I took a photography class. The instructor was a younger teacher. She was really enthusiastic and energetic, and did a great job of getting her students excited about the subject matter.

It was mostly a darkroom class. At the beginning of every session, however, there would be 15 minutes of slide lecture, which was basically going through the history of the medium. And I was excited by both – creating photographs in the darkroom and the art history part of class.

I was so excited that when I went off to college the next year as a math major, I found a way to take as many darkroom classes and art history classes as I could.

But it really was that one semester in high school that lit the spark. I remember going to the public library to the section of photography monographs and just randomly pulling things off the shelf and leafing through them and seeing what excited me. And they were probably the same as a lot of other people, but there were a couple of books in particular that really blew the top of my head off.

JB: Like what?

BC: Nan Goldin’s “The Ballad of Sexual Dependency.”

JB: Of course.

BC: And Diane Arbus’s Aperture monograph. Those two in particular, I remember as being extremely excited about.

JB: You grew up in Colorado Springs, right?

BC: No. I grew up in the suburbs of Denver.

JB: Okay. That makes more sense. I had it mis-remembered. I was imagining you out there in that conservative – I don’t want to say wasteland, as I’ll get in trouble. I had a hard time seeing you there. The Denver area makes way more sense.

BC: Well, you know what, though? Back when I was in school, so we’re talking 1988 was when I graduated from high school, Colorado wasn’t the sort of purple state it is now. It was much more redneck, and there was a lot less culture in Denver at that time than there is now.

It’s fun for me to go back now, because people have flooded in from the East and West coasts so much that things have really changed. And now Denver’s kind of a fun place to be. But, I remember back when I was in high school and college, I couldn’t wait to get out.

JB: I bet. And was it always “I can’t wait to go to New York”? Was that a plan?

BC: It was, actually. I came to New York for the first time when I was in 9th grade for a debate tournament, and that was when I fell in love with the city. It’s weird how even when you’re a kid, you know something. It was like I knew I would end up in New York City. Lo and behold! Less than a week after I graduated from CU, Boulder, I had my bags packed and was on my way to New York City. I’ve been here ever since.

JB: Do you think New York is going to stay the center of it all? At least as far as America goes? Is its relative position weakening as other cities grow? What do you think?

BC: It’s interesting. The internet puts everybody at a more level playing field, for sure.

But, a lot of the creative people who helped build this city and make it interesting in the first place are being forced to go to other places. We’ve seen a mass exodus of the creative class in New York, for sure, which will negatively impact things. But, all that being said, there is still a certain cache being in New York City.

I continue to notice it. There are collectors all over the country, but people really do enjoy the experience of coming to New York City and exploring galleries and museums, and buying work here.

So even if they can get the same thing in Los Angeles or Chicago, there’s still a certain thrill of collecting work in New York. Everything will change, and is already changing, but I don’t foresee another city surpassing New York City as the art capital of this country, anyway.

Los Angeles is an interesting city, and there are probably even more artists there at this point than there are in New York. But, even with its world-class museums and impressive galleries, I would still say there’s no competition between Los Angeles and New York in terms of the volume of artwork sold per year.

JB: And you can take a subway in New York. I was just in LA, and it’s like you really get the sense that people on the West side and the East side, they’re living parallel lives. People plan their whole day around not having to get stuck in the kind of traffic that makes you want to hurt somebody, especially when the sun is beating down.

The last time I was in New York, I couldn’t believe that, because of the rising rents, all the pizzerias were going out of business. Can you still get a decent slice of pizza in your neighborhood? Is that a thing of the past?

BC: That’s a really good question. Gosh. Maybe one place by our gallery still has a decent slice. The pizzerias are fewer and farther apart than they ever were. (Laughter)

When I moved to New York, I lived on St. Mark’s Place, and there was a pizza place across the street that had dollar slices. I probably subsisted on that, and dollar falafels, for the first year I was here. I think you would not be able to do that in 2016.

JB: I really, really miss pizza.

BC: One thing we haven’t really talked about is that a lot of the defection of small and medium-sized galleries from Chelsea has been to the Lower East Side. And the notable fact is that they’re probably the same number of galleries in New York right now as there were prior to the recession in 2008, but because of the architecture on the Lower East Side the galleries tend to be in smaller spaces with lower ceilings.

They’re much more compact. The warehouse spaces in West Chelsea lent themselves better to contemporary art. That was another big deal in our transition – finding a space large enough to show a wide range of art.

JB: Was Brooklyn a consideration? Or not really?

BC: Briefly a consideration. Brooklyn at this point is culturally more interesting than Manhattan for emerging work, and certainly almost all of my friends live there now.

But as far as art galleries are concerned, there are all these wonderful places, especially in Bushwick, but for a lot of my collectors, there’s still this psychological hurdle. Perhaps it speaks to my age, or my experience or what have you, but I just felt much more comfortable staying within Manhattan.

JB: Gotcha. There were a ton of galleries in Williamsburg when I lived in Greenpoint, and then I came back to town five years ago and they were all gone. Or most of them were gone and replaced by retail, and it sounds like that is more or less what’s happening in Chelsea – this idea that high-end things that maybe sell more frequently or where they have lower dollar amounts but you sell more volume.

Is that a trend, do you think? Is that part of gentrification? Galleries giving way to boutiques?

BC: Yeah, that’s exactly what’s happening. The amount of handbag stores in New York City is just mindboggling. (Laughter)

But with regard to Williamsburg, some of the hottest young galleries were in Williamsburg prior to the recession. Most of the more interesting ones ended up moving to Chelsea.
But then the others just closed and nothing ever came back once the economy started to improve. Part of that has to do with the fact that Williamsburg just exploded in terms of real estate. It became so expensive that it wasn’t much cheaper than being in Manhattan.

But, as I said, there are some wonderfully exciting places in Bushwick. Artists are subverting the gallery system altogether, and establishing pop-ups and project spaces in apartments and other unexpected locales throughout Brooklyn and Queens.

JB: I did it. I had a gallery called BQE33. I ran a space out of my apartment, because it looked so much like a gallery, just for my Pratt buddies.

But now all those suckers are screwed, right? They’re shutting the “L” train for a year and a half. How are people there going to get to Manhattan?

BC: Yeah.

JB: All that pricey real estate doesn’t do much if you can’t get across the water, right?

BC: I know. That’s going to have such a huge effect on real estate values, on the ability for all these businesses to make money. It’s going to be a nightmare, honestly.

JB: Right. I’m glad it’s not your problem and it’s not my problem. (Laughter)

Let’s just pivot for a second to creative stuff, then. Part of your job is to look, and I would imagine you’ve got to have your guard up almost all the time, because people want something from you. That’s just human nature.

I know you’re going to museums. I know you’re going to see things, just out of joy and out of learning. Have you seen anything in New York or on your travels, any museum shows, anything that was just unbelievably good and reinvigorated you or anything like that?

BC: Yes, right now the Whitney Museum has this portraiture show that’s all drawn from their permanent collection. It’s actually a really nice way not only to reinterpret, but also represent their permanent collection.

A lot of museums will always have the same artworks on display. Even in the old Whitney space, when you went up to the fifth floor, you would always know what pieces you would see. But this exhibition was exciting and fresh, especially in terms of the inclusion of all media, including photography. They had some wonderful stuff there.

JB: I hate putting people on the spot like that, but I kind of have to. It’s part of the job.

BC: Well, yeah. I can think of a lot of things I saw that I didn’t like, but that was one exhibition I really admired.

Another exciting thing was The School, which is Jack Shainman’s gallery that he opened up in Kinderhook, which is about two hours north of the city.

He bought an old schoolhouse that he’s turned into a place to present contemporary art. I think it opened last year, but I just now made it this summer. And I was blown away.

And speaking to some of this migration, Shainman still certainly has a presence in West Chelsea, but now he’s got this other major operation going on outside of the city, which is really exciting.

JB: Cool. A lot of the first half the interview was kind of bleak, because things are not easy out there, and you’re very kind to share this kind of inside information with us.

But if we were going to pivot to something slightly more optimistic for the younger artists out there, or just the people who really, really want in on the industry and haven’t made it yet, is there any advice you might give to help people stay positive?

Obviously, perseverance is a great one, but are there things that you tend to encourage people on to help them understand why making art is important, beyond just trying to sell it? Or anything like that?

BC: Well, first of all, I think one encouraging thing is something that I touched on before. While everything is changing, there probably are still more galleries in New York right now than there ever have been. And a lot of those galleries are smaller, scrappier spaces that have an investment in emerging art.

We talked about a lot of artists who are being forced out of New York City by the rising real estate prices and cost of living, but the good news is, with the internet and FedEx, etc., artists don’t have to live in New York City to have New York City gallery representation.

An artist can set up shop in Pittsburgh or Detroit and still have a chance of making it in other markets and building an audience. There’s more flexibility in those terms which is fantastic.

A lot of what we talked about was sort of bleak, but I still have the energy and the positivity to try to expand and continue to have a space for younger voices. Despite all of these observations, I feel personally optimistic enough that owning a gallery is still viable and something worthwhile.

JB: No doubt. It’s kind of you to share your thoughts with us.

I’ve always try to remind people that the reasons why we started making art, the things it does for our psyche and our sense of self-esteem, the ability to become healthier if you use your art in the right way, these things don’t really have anything to do with getting famous or selling prints for five grand a pop.

Part of how I remain optimistic is to just remind people that there are deep reasons to do this stuff that don’t involve getting 250 likes on your Facebook post about your next show.

BC: You’re completely right. And you need to be able to keep a healthy perspective about fulfillment and achievement. This relates to anything, not just the art industry, but it goes back to looking at yourself and not comparing yourself to others, etc.

JB: Etc, indeed. So we’ll end on a positive note. I wish you nothing but the best in this new venture. On behalf of all our readers, thanks so much for your time.

BC: It’s always good talking to you.

© Randhy Rodriguez http://randhyrodriguez.com/ Marc Yankus exhibition

© Randhy Rodriguez http://randhyrodriguez.com/ Marc Yankus exhibition

© Adam Ekberg, “A sparkler on a frozen lake,” 2006, Archival pigment print.

© Pipo Nguyen-duy, “Untitled L30,” 1998, Cyanotype (Unique).

© Jill Greenberg, “Untitled (Ursine #59J-48),” 2006, ARchival pigment print.

© Marc Yankus, “Haughwout Building,” 2016, ARchival pigment print.

© Lori Nix, “Circulation Desk,” 2012, Archival pigment print.

I Think Hiring Influencers As Photographers Is A Trend

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Is Havas hiring influencers at all and if so, how do they find them? How many followers does someone need to have in order to be considered an influencer?
We are hiring a lot of influencers! Our creatives find them directly on Instagram, sometimes they give me the person’s Instagram handle and I have to dig to find contact info or a website. I’ve seen influencers with anywhere from 50k-500k followers, it depends on if we’re paying for their influence or just hiring them as a photographer. Lately, I’ve been suggesting that photographers increase their following and post their work on Instagram. They should be using Instagram as just another portfolio tool, it’s a great way to show a cohesive body of work. Start a separate personal account for dog and kid pics.

Do you think this trend is going to continue or so you see signs of it evolving?
I think hiring influencers as photographers is a trend, the technical ability and production sense that photographers bring to the table is worth so much more. I think it’s going to take a while for clients to see it since a lot of them are just starting to get their feet wet in this medium. 

Read more: Trend meets Tradition: Meet Haley Silverman | Notes From A Rep’s Journal

Pete Souza, Obama’s Chief White House Photographer, on Making Pictures | GQ

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On a technical level, did digital photography increase your output? You’ve said you’ve taken around 2,000 a day average, or something like that.

I actually don’t think I shoot that much, because I’m not a motor drive kinda guy. So everything is kinda single frame. I don’t know even if I had been shooting film this administration that I would have shot any less. I don’t feel that I overshoot because of digital. Sure, you don’t have to stop at frame 36, but that’s the reason why you’d always carry ten rolls of film with you at a time. So I don’t know that that would make that much of a difference for me, at least.

Okay, because we were trying to do the math, adding up the shutter clicks, and wondering how many cameras have you completely ruined?

I don’t know how many cameras I’ve gone through but it’s probably been eight or ten. I never blew a shutter, which I know a lot of photographers occasionally do. I usually try to switch when I can feel like a camera’s about to give out. I always carried a backup camera, especially on foreign trips just in case one went down.

Read more here: Pete Souza, Obama’s Chief White House Photographer, on Making Pictures | GQ

The Art of the Personal Project: Donato Di Camillo

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Personal Projects are crucial in showing potential buyers how you think creatively on your own. I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or show something I have never seen before. In this revised column, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: projects are found and submissions are not accepted.

http://donatodicamillo.com/the-fringe/

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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 establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty. Follow her at @SuzanneSease.

I Had An Incredible Ride

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For the first 15 years we were like tittering schoolboys, viewing every offer, no matter how paltry, as an opportunity for naughtiness and adventure. We unashamedly piggied life on the back of work, and in the process both flourished. Photography’s like a panda; it only eats one thing. Curiosity. Without a constant diet of curiosity, it’s dead. So when you’ve reached the point where venturing away from your living room without a business class ticket seems like a hassle, or extending an assignment in Ulan Bator when nobody’s paying for the hotel doesn’t make sense; you’ve ceased to be a photographer. You might be a high-level technician, but your photographs – no matter how much money tech companies will pay for them – are shit. Because the only thing you are curious about is the day rate.

— Julian Richards

Read More Here: A conversation between photographer Mark Mahaney and former photo agent Julian Richards.