“My photos are very simple. I believe the magic of photography is capturing the moment that doesn’t exist a moment before or later.”
Read it all (here).
“My photos are very simple. I believe the magic of photography is capturing the moment that doesn’t exist a moment before or later.”
Read it all (here).
On April 11 Christie’s is scheduled to sell about 200 silver-gelatin Ansel Adams prints from a corporate collection in California. It is among the largest Adams collections in private hands.
Via NYTimes (here).
I find the corporate workaholic mentality of, the longer you spend at your desk the better the product will become, utterly ridiculous and literally, ass-in-seat. The best ideas I ever came up with occurred on a morning run in the park in Connecticut not sitting in my office on 6th avenue or any office anywhere for that matter.
Jason Calacanis CEO of Mahalo started a raging debate over in the tech world with a line in a post about how to save money running a startup (here) that said “fire people who are not workaholics…” since revised to “don’t love their work.” He proceeded to get a good shredding from tech bloggers and my favorite response came frrom Signal vs. Noise (here) entitled “Fire the people who are workaholics!”
If your start-up can only succeed by being a sweatshop, your idea is simply not good enough. Go back to the drawing board and come up with something better that can be implemented by whole people, not cogs.
The business world is changing and it’s becoming harder and harder to find talented cogs. Corporations need a business plan that attracts whole people if they want to be around in 10 years. Well, that is unless you’re making cogs… cogs are still good for that.
One of my all time favorite photographers has no agent, no website, doesn’t send out promo mailers, no logo, isn’t in any of the sourcebooks, not listed in the free workbook phonebook, has never called to see if I’ve got anything for him and if I hadn’t scoured the web and made a few phone calls years ago I would have no clue how to contact him (you have to email me if you want his info).
Sometimes I get tired of talking about marketing and business because the reality is I really just like looking at pictures and I get a real buzz out of sending photographers off to take pictures and wish I didn’t have to deal with any of the other shit and I know photographers just want to take pictures so I thought I’d take this opportunity to say that if you want to be like Seamus Murphy and work hard to develop your craft then go do it.
A reader points out: …”Yours is probably the most helpful blog I have ever come across, however your insights make the whole industry sound so strategic. Your blog makes it sound as if us photographers all have to be walking on egg shells so as not to step on any toes. Hey! We’re the ones producing the actual pictures!”
Yeah, I hear ya buddy. There’s something I really enjoy about photographers who could give a flying rats ass about marketing themselves to me.
If you want to just go out take great pictures, I will find YOU. That’s my job. That’s why photo editors exist. If it were easy the editor could do it.
’bout time. Heather Morton who hails from Toronto and claims the lonely title of the only *Freelance* Art Buyer in Canada has a much needed addition to the photo blog world (here). As a bonus she’s got a follow up interview with Clay Stang about the consultation we did here.
Apple announced yesterday that the iphone will not support flash (here).
A reader asked me awhile back about optimizing websites for the iPhone which I immediately dismissed as ridiculous and then, what do you know, I was out of the office later that day and tried to access a photographers contact info by going to their website on my palm phone because I didn’t have it in my database and couldn’t do it because of the flash so I thought ok, maybe there’s something to this.
In the larger scheme of things nobody will ever receive or lose a job based on the ability of their portfolio to render on a palm phone or iphone but more and more I find myself using google as a phone book instead of carefully entering photographers contact info into my database like I used to do.
PDN just announced their annual 30 photographers list (here) which always proves to be a valuable resource for photo editors looking for new talent or to validate someone they’re interested in working with. Unlike the other juried competitions this one is unique because PDN seems to make a real effort to introduce (drive) new talent into the system. I’ve personally used it to cherry pick photographers when the list comes out or to go back over several years worth when seeking some inspiration after getting bored with my own list.
It’s interesting to note in the editors letter that all the selections were made online this year which makes me wonder if printed portfolios are finally starting to fall out of favor.
They have a free event in conjunction with the publication of the list March 10th from 6:30-9 at Parsons with a panel discussion featuring 4 of the 30 photographers, Amy Lundeen, Photo Editor at Budget Travel and Fiona McDonagh, Photo Director at Entertainment Weekly (details here).
Turning down jobs is one of the smartest things you can do for your photography career.
A reader writes:
“For me it’s been really instrumental in the last couple of years to take shoots that I really think I can knock out of the park, and shoots that feel like I am a good match for to get something great. Also, I make it a point to never go backwards or stay stagnant at a magazine for too long. If I do a small front-of-the-book portrait as a first job or two, and do a great job and they call for more, I usually try not to take it. I try to let them know that I would be good for their bigger shoots, and it’s worked out well that way, working my way up to covers in some cases.
In other cases, I was definitely stuck in a quarter pager mode, and was looking for the bigger front of the book portraits. Turned down the little jobs and never got offered the bigger. Which is a risk I was willing to take to try to get the better stuff. I figure sometimes it’s good to leave a magazine and come back to them with a stronger body of work later.”
He’s not talking about turning down bad money or contracts either just jobs that don’t jive with your career goals.
When you’ve established a relationship with someone shooting small front of book or crappy subjects that no one else wants it’s impossible to graduate them to the big features, fashion or the cover. Try convincing an editor that the photographer who shoots 1/4 pages in the front of the book should shoot this months cover. It ain’t happening.
Also, when I see someone’s work in another magazine that I don’t like, it can take them down a notch on my list. They may have done the job as a favor but I never know the details or difficulties behind the shoot.
So, what’s the best way to turn down jobs? Don’t be the photographer who says “I only shoot fashion or covers” because that’s not going to get you a call back to shoot fashion or covers. The usual method is to be busy during the shoot days and that’s why good agents will never tell you their photographer’s schedule before they hear the job details.
As a Photo Editor it’s important to have a couple photographers who will “shoot anything, anywhere and anytime” because you can always rely on them to get the job done but for most people this is not the way to advance your career.
I’ve had almost all my favorite photographers turn me down cold at one time or another and even though it stings for a couple days in the end I respect them more for not compromising their vision. Some shoots are just never worth taking no matter how much you need the job because if the the results are bad we may not be working together anymore anyways.
“Michael Bierut at Pentagram to oversee a sweeping redesign of the 150-year-old magazine.”
“It is still believed to be losing $3 million to $5 million a year.”
Story in the NY Post (here).
Here’s a fascinating video of Annie Leibovitz photographing the Queen from a BBC series entitled Monarchy: The Royal Family At Work (here). What I find interesting in photo shoot videos is not the 11 assistants or the lighting setup but watching the photographer interact with the subject. When assigning portraits of celebrities or famous people one of the biggest considerations besides “can they make a stunning portrait in 10 minutes” is “can they get the subject to do something interesting.”
I see pictures of some famous people and they always look the same and the pictures are always boring but the reality is that some subjects are really difficult to work with and unwilling to accommodate the photographer. They treat photoshoots like torture. The subjects can also be terribly guarded and afraid that we’re trying to take something unflattering or out of character and so they only allow certain emotions, clothing, backgrounds and props in the photograph.
The decision is usually between 3 basic types of celebrity photographers. “Named” photographers are great because the subjects and publicists will respect the name and body of work and grant more leeway with the subject because of their reputation within Hollywood. The disadvantage is that it’s hard to take the famous photographer out of the picture and so the subject sort of shares the frame with the photographer. Studio/Publicist friendly photographers have good working relationships with the decision makers and this can make the planning and logistics easy because they’re all on the same page from the start. Working with one of these photographers can guarantee several hours of time with the subject which means lots of setups. The downside is that these photographers need to maintain their relationship with the publicists and they won’t do anything that might piss them off. Tenacious photographers get ideas in their head they won’t let go of and are willing to push the subject to achieve the picture they want. The only problem can be that your 10 min. shoot could turn into a 1 min. shoot if everyone gets upset.
Annie really shows her tenacity in this video when she immediately tries to get the Queen to remove her crown after deciding it doesn’t look good in the first shot and not giving up on an original request request to shoot the Queen on horseback inside the state apartments. She brings it up at the end of the shoot as the picture she’d really like to take, laying the groundwork for next time.
If I want to find the best stock in the world I just go to my favorite photographer websites and look at their portfolio and there it is, the top 40-60 photos they’ve ever taken, edited and ready to be published again.
Every once and awhile a designer would come up to me with a layout filled with holes. What goes in those holes, you might ask? Stock pictures of course. My job (and those who worked with me) was to take the layout and find photos that fit in the holes. If there’s a vertical hole next to a headline that says “Volleyball in Kosovo” I need to find a vertical photo of Volleyball in Kosovo. What happens if I find a horizontal photo of Volleyball in Kosovo? Can it be cropped? No, then that’s a problem because turning a vertical hole into a horizontal hole will obviously change the flow of text and suddenly your horizontal hole has the headline “Field Hockey in Gabon,” (this being a package on obscure sports in strange places and all) and now you need to find a horizontal of Field Hockey in Gabon but then what happens if you find a vertical of field hockey in Gabon, can’t you simply flop the stories. No, dumbass they’re ranked. Duh. They have to appear in the order we have them in–until the writer uncovers new information that changes the ranking and throws the whole thing out of whack. And, so it goes, filling in the holes until the final urgent email, “we still need a square photo of Elephant Polo in Sri Lanka and the package ships tonight.”
This is not a rant against Designers who hand Photo Editors layouts filled with holes. I know all to well the source of this phenomenon. The package was assigned at the last minute and the layout deadline is fast approaching and all the text is in so we need to start a layout while the slack-ass Photo Editor finds all the photos and the Editor really likes the configuration we used last year and the production department really needs adjacencies for advertising and don’t forget about the quarter page consecutive ads that Honda bought that need to appear on pages 4,5,6 and 10 of the package (clever bastards hope they paid a premium). Also, we want to add cool icons to aid in navigation because everyone’s using cool icons these days and don’t forget about the 12 sidebars plus a running ticker and what about the maps, do you expect the readers to know where Gabon, Kosovo and Sri Lanka are on their own, we need maps. So, you see designers, I know where the layout with the holes comes from and it’s not about winning SPD Gold just trying to survive the shit storm.
So, I close the door to my office, crank Rage Against the Machine, glare at any intruders, grab my handy stock list (here) and find the horizontals and verticals of all the obscure sports in all the obscure places. Sometimes I even surprise myself and find a really cool photo or agency or photographer that I didn’t know about, sometimes I just weather the storm.
“…part of a revamp the venerated brand has been undergoing since last Fall with reorganizations, repositioning, management changes and new sales programs. Many of the new initiatives are on its Web sites, which have seen traffic soar since early last year. A significant part of the growth has been from user generated content, especially the “Your Shot” area on the National Geographic Magazine Web site, where people submit photos that are sifted by editors and voted on by users. A select few get published in the magazine.
The magazine’s NGM.com site traffic has grown from about 5.6 million page views last January to 22.4 million last month, according to internal numbers provided by the executives. Your Shot accounted for about 14 million page views.” (your shot here)
Via, Jack Myers (here).
Working as a Photo Editor at a National Magazine the monthly low point usually occurs when the editor reviews the layout illustrated with the shittiest photos I have ever seen that were the direct result of hours upon hours of stock searches for a subject that’s thinly covered and being told that, rather then kill the story or run an illustration, I need to look a little further and find something good this time.
“Did it it ever occur to you that the subject you have chosen for extensive coverage in the magazine might possibly be shit and that’s why the photos are shit? No, I’m sure it has something to do with the fact that I haven’t uncovered the one decent photographer who happened to take a picture that makes this subject look good. Maybe I’ll try Flickr or Google.”
And, so I would hunker down in my office with my Stock Photo List (here) and try endless combinations of keywords and search obscure stock sites and try single word searches on Corbis and Getty that would turn up 10,000 images to sift through or sometimes I’d troll the crap stock sites praying for a diamond among the turds and I’d do this until I felt like I’d looked under every rock or completely run out of time.
Having spent many years working at magazines of a similar genre from time to time subjects we’ve covered before would crop up in meetings and that’s where I could finally say with authority, “I’ve searched for pictures on that subject before and nothing good exists so we should kill the story now or assign an illustration.” This is usually when the Editor or Creative Director decides to do a quick Google image search and finds the perfect photo.
I just checked Media Bistro and 3 major publications are looking for Photo Directors. Business Week, Details and Men’s Health (here). Where did all the DOP’s go?