We emailed Art Buyers and Art Producers around the world asking them to submit names of established photographers who were keeping it fresh and up-and-comers who they are keeping their eye on. If you are an Art Buyer/Producer or an Art Director at an agency and want to submit a photographer anonymously for this column email: Suzanne.email@example.com
Anonymous Art Producer: I nominate Jay Reilly. He embodies the SoCal aesthetic not only in his photography, but also his personality; laid back, easy going, always smiling. This shines through in his interactions with his talent and consequently his photographs. His use of color and light capture the eternal glow of California and all it represents.
How many years have you been in business?
I have been a professional photographer for about 13 years. Before that, I was involved in tech marketing/advertising.
Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I graduated from the Pennsylvania State University with a major in Administration of Justice, then attended 1 year of law school before realizing I am more of a creative person than a litigator. I am self-taught in photography.
Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
After law school I worked for technology companies in the marketing world and spent many hours looking through stock photography sites for images that we needed for our projects. Rather than specific photographers that were personally inspiring, were the quality and variety of images that fascinated me. More than merely appropriate for the project I was working on, the content was great, the composition was strong, the life in the images was real. I just felt very connected to certain stock agencies and knew that I could create these images as well, maybe even better with my own style, technique and creativity. I was inspired by the ability to create something beautiful and inspiring that also has commercial application. My photography from day one is intended to sell.
How do you find your inspiration to be so fresh, push the envelope, stay true to yourself so that creative folks are noticing you and hiring you?
I am constantly creating new images, and I consider it a labor of love to continually feed my portfolio with new work. Shooting tends to come in waves. For a stretch I will be busy working for clients, and then in between such jobs, I can fill my portfolio with what I want to shoot. Once the clients call again I can focus on making their images, but it is especially rewarding when clients see something I have shot for myself and say – exactly! Interplay between clients and photographer is an important part of the process. What I shoot for the clients comes from my images as well as the client’s vision.
Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
First and foremost I am shooting to serve the clients. I tend to get hired because someone saw an image I shot and it resonated with them for a certain project the client had in mind. But then after time and discussion that image that they love becomes something else and something of its own. I like to take direction from creatives and clients. If I feel strongly about an idea or a position, I will communicate that position or try to shoot it for myself, time permitting.
What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
Overall my approach is much more modest and guerrilla in nature, but that has been successful for me. I am unrepresented and therefore I do most of my own marketing and horn tooting. I try to keep my cost and initiatives modest while implementing effective yet practical means to have creatives see what I am shooting. Using social media has been successful. I try at first to develop potential client relationships casually online, but ultimately what is important is to ask for a meeting or a real face-to-face connection. Shooting great content is only half of the equation. These images need to be seen by the right people.
What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
Well, I have to remind myself all the time that my images do not need to be perfect. There is this adorable trend of honest snapshots in advertising that looks perfectly imperfect. But what it’s about is the authentic moments that happen in life. The moments in-between the big moments that mean a lot. I am always reminding myself to look for and capture these split seconds. Don’t worry about the untamed imperfections; just keep shooting.
Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
I am always shooting new images. In addition to creating new work, I am looking to collaborate and create with others. The many types of photography I shoot I can produce successfully on my own. This might include travel, documentary, certain lifestyle imagery, sports, surfing photography to name a few. But to grow other areas of my portfolio, it is desirable that I collaborate with others to create something compelling and unique. These areas may include fashion, portrait, and larger production lifestyle work. I would welcome association with a magazine, a producer or a fashion stylist. So some of these collaborations become artistic endeavors and are very similar to shooting for a client or focusing on a project.
How often are you shooting new work?
Depends on how busy I am. I love shooting new material but if the clients are calling then I am shooting for clients. But as soon as these jobs wind down, I immediately dig in to focus on new work. Sometimes it takes a little momentum and energy to make that happen. But in many ways it’s like surfing (another one of my passions); sometimes it’s no fun to put on a cold wetsuit and brave the winter water.. but once I catch that first wave, I am energized. From then on I can paddle and surf all day! The same is true for my reaction to new work. It takes a little manufactured energy to get to that first shoot, but from then on, I am riding the energy wave and excitement which carries me to the next shoot!
Clients and agencies hire Jay Reilly, acknowledging his ability to produce and create authentic imagery that supports, communicates and propels the brand or organization into the future and toward the desired goals. Jay Reilly has a team of creative professionals ready to mobilize and meet your creative needs. Producer, stylist, location scouts and casting professionals provide the right mix of talent and skill, and they look forward to making your vision a reality.
A partial list of Jay Reilly’s satisfied clients include: Nike, Sony, TD Ameritrade, Tate&Lyle, Splenda, Chandon Domaine, Bristol Myers, Cal-Poly State University, Children’s Hospital of Orange County, Parade, Design Bureau, O’Leary, Gyro, Pollinate, Private Clubs, Riviera, San Diego Magazine and many more.
Jay Reilly is based in Carlsbad, California between Los Angeles and San Diego California and shoots wherever needed. He can be found anywhere from San Francisco to New York. Jay Reilly works unrepresented and determines his own budget and cost for a shoot. Call at 760.525.5172 to discuss a project.
APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s, after founding the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies. She has a new Twitter fed with helpful marketing information. Follow her@SuzanneSease.