JR is amazing.
I’m excited to be attending the Texas Photo Roundup this year to interview Andy Anderson about his career and moderate a panel on social media for photographers. Andy’s also leading a workshop if you want to get even more insight from him. Information below:
In Conversation: Andy Anderson and Rob Haggart
Saturday, March 1 / 10:30am – 12:00pm Location: Long Center Kodosky Donor Lounge Join Rob Haggart, award-winning photo editor and founder of popular photography blog APhotoEditor.com, and Andy Anderson, acclaimed commercial and editorial photographer, for a frank one-on-one conversation. Andy and Rob will talk about Andy’s career, how he got his start, the challenges he’s faced, how he stays true to his vision and more. Q&A to follow. REGISTER HERE Or purchase an All Access Pass to all the morning talks and presentations
Andy Anderson Workshop: Keeping your Personal Vision Under the Demands of a Commercial Market
Thursday, February 27 / 9-6pm Friday, February 28 / 9-5pm Location: Whitebox Studio REGISTER HERE Join commercial and editorial photographer Andy Anderson for a unique 2-day workshop. One of the hardest situations a photographer can experience is staying true to one’s own personal style in the face of a commercial assignment where photo editors, art directors or account planners are all focusing on their objectives for a shoot. Making sure you are not just taking orders from these people — but instead bringing your own personal style and vision to life in the context of the assignment — is the ultimate goal. This is what we will work together to achieve over the course of this workshop.
I’m reposting this from our sister blog Photography and Architecture, because I think Joshua Dool has such smart answers to the question Why do architectural photographers charge so much?
Blue Planet Aquarium, Copenhagen. Designed by Danish architects 3XN. All images © Joshua Dool
Joshua Dool is an award-winning architectural and industrial photographer based in Vancouver, Canada. Joshua was interested in both architecture and photography from a young age but photography won out. We wanted to hear about the skills required to properly photograph a building, the costs to the architect, and how a photographer can be creative in meeting budgets – he was kindly most forthcoming.
Q: What justifies the cost of strong architectural imagery?
JD: Photography isn’t much different than anything else. Fast and cheap doesn’t equal good. With architecture photography, it takes time to get the perfect angle and the perfect lighting, so the fast category doesn’t really even apply to it. So then, we are left with either cheap or good, and you probably aren’t going to get both.
My experience has been: the cheaper the photographer, the poorer the image looks, and in a society that is becoming increasingly visually literate, thanks to social media and the internet, fantastic photos are a must! Strong images strengthen a brand, weak images diminish a brand. This is true for all advertising, and it is especially true for architecture. Great projects deserve great photos to represent them, because at the end of the day, for the vast majority of an architect’s future clients, this will be the only way they ever get to interact with that design!
This doesn’t mean the more expensive the better, but it does mean that good imagery comes at a justified price. Half-rate images can make a fantastic project look crappy, and fantastic images can make an average project really stick out. The strength of the imagery is going to define whether the local paper or national magazine features it; it will affect how professional your website looks; it’s going to be the face of that project for awards consideration, and it’s going to determine whether the project images get onto social media which can generate A LOT of buzz and flow to your website.
Q: Why do architecture photographers charge so much, and what is associated with the cost?
JD: Several things are associated with producing professional images. In order to produce great architecture photos, you need a decent amount of gear, and a lot of knowledge specific to the field of architecture photography.
It takes time to scout locations, find angles, and map the sun through the course of the day in order to show up and capture great images on the day of production. Most shoots require one day of scouting, and one or two days of actual capture, but then the images are not ready out of the camera either, and can often take another one to three hours per photo in postproduction. So, there is a considerable time investment in photographing architecture properly.
Professional camera equipment and lighting is not cheap either. I arrive on a shoot with usually $20k+ worth of my own gear. I have pro-camera systems, tilt shift lenses, a few strobe kits, large reflectors, multiple tripods, and then a swath of gear at home for editing the photos in post production. It’s an incredibly expensive form of photography. And then, in order for me to hone my craft and get proficient at using all the cameras, lighting, and reflector systems I use, I’ve put my time in assisting other photographers, doing lighting on movie sets, and in photo school. Architecture photography is a very specialized form of photography, and isn’t something that just anyone can do, especially if you want quality results.
Q: Do you find that a lot of clients are suprised at the cost of photography?
JD: Price is often a big factor, especially for smaller/newer firms. I am cognizant of this, and I am always happy to try to meet a price point where I can in order to build a relationship with a new firm.
I’ve had a specific scenario happen a few times this last year, where a firm has contacted me requesting a quote for me to photograph several of their projects. After collecting bids from a few different photographers, they called me back to see if I could budge my rate, basically saying that they wanted me as their photographer, but at the other guy’s price. So, I did my best to make something work, but they ended up going for the cheapest quote they’d received. In both of these instances, they didn’t end up posting any of the photographs from the other photographer on their website because they were unhappy with the results.
It’s a common practice for newer, less experienced photographers to try to compete on price point instead of on quality of imagery. The truth is, in order to work at some of these cut-throat prices, these photographers have to be either jet-set trust fund kids who are doing it as a passion and not for the money, or they are photographers who don’t have the same level of expertise and quality of equipment, and who probably won’t be around in another year to photograph your next project. That is, if you would even want them to!
I’m a big fan of architecture so it saddens me to see great projects end up being captured poorly.
Q: Is there a way that architects can keep the costs down or operate within a budget?
JD: YES! There are a few ways:
They can let the photographer know the budget they are working with, and see if the photographer has any suggestions. Personally, the best way to lower the price for me is to book me for two or more projects, as I offer discounts to firms when they package together a few commissions.
Or perhaps the photographer has a month with nothing booked they could move the shoot to, and offer a reduced rate. Here in Vancouver, it rains from November to March, so I would be more inclined to offer a discount on an interior shoot if it took place in the months I’m not busy shooting exteriors in the sunshine!
Another way is to perhaps shave a couple images off the wishlist, and make it a one day shoot instead of a two or three day shoot. Would you rather have image 12 images that look great, or have all 18 and run the risk of the discount photographer messing it up?
Q: What gets you excited about architecture photography?
JD: I am especially intrigued by the human interaction with architecture. Architecture is after all designed for people. So I try to include a human element in my photographs. Early on, I noticed that most renderings the architects had included people, because this is how they sell the functionality of the design, but most photographs I was seeing were empty spaces devoid of human life. Being around great architecture is exciting, and seeing how structure are utilized, how they shape peoples daily experiences, and how they serve there intended purpose is one area I’m especially fascinated with in my photography.
Blue Planet Aquarium.
Peace Bridge, Calgary. Santiago Calatrava.
8 House, Copenhagen. Bjarke Ingels.
UBC Pharmaceutical, Vancouver. Saucier + Perrote.
Bella Sky Hotel, Copenhagen. 3XN.
Feeling the challenges of 2014? Take a moment to reflect on this:
Over on our sister blog, Photography & Architecture, we have an excellent post up informing Architects how to go about hiring a photographer. Julia Sabot interviewed Redeye Reps founder Maren Levinson about the process. You may find some good info in there or you may want to pass some advice onto potential clients:
There should be a cancellation policy or weather provision set up in advance, especially if there are multiple exterior shots on the list. Professional photographers are freelance. If they take your job, it is likely they are saying no to another. If you cancel without any notice due to weather or scheduling, they will want some sort of compensation for the day they did not accept another job. Mostly photographers will be reasonable about this and if they are local, could be ok with waiving it, but it should be discussed in advance.
Creative Director: Michael Axe
Deputy Art Director: Mike Ley
Photo Director: Alex Pollack
Photo Editor: Susan Getzendanner
Photographer: Michael Graydon
Food Stylist: Nikole-Kerriott
Martha Stewart Living
Creative Director: Matthew Axe
Deputy Design Director: Jen McManus
Photo Director: Jennifer Miller
Deputy Photo Editor: Linda Denahan
Photographer: Anna Williams
Food Styling: Jennifer Aaronson
Food Network Magazine
Creative Director: Deirdre Koribanick
Art Director: Ian Doherty
Deputy Art Director: Marc Davila
Photo Director: Alice Albert
Deputy Photo Editor: Kathleen E. Bednerek
Photographer: Johnny Miller
Food Styling: Christine Albano
Who better to keep the Holiday Card tradition alive than professional photographers… this is in your wheelhouse folks. Here’s a few to get started, post links in the comments to your holiday card and I’ll add them to the list. Here’s to a happy and successful 2014 for everyone.
Sam is well known a Los Angeles based Celebrity and Portrait photographer who also shoots documentary films and music videos. His most recent music video for Mumford & Sons went viral:
Hopefully we can answer your most pressing questions in 140 characters or less…
Use this hashtag to see the questions and answers: #asksj
Professional Photographer Webcast Episode 3
Topic: Working with a consultant
When: Wednesday, November 6th at 2:00 EST
Where: Here on aphotoeditor.com and Google + (here)
Suzanne Sease and I will be joined by Colleen Vreeland. Suzanne as you may know comes from the Art Buying side of the business with many years of experience working at Advertising Agencies. Colleen has worked in the past as an agent for Sharpe & Associates, Friend & Johnson and Elizabeth Poje. Both now advise and consult with photographers, so we’ll discuss working with a consultant and what the entails, plus any pointed questions you have about the consulting business. If you’re thinking about working with a consultant or have in the past and want to know how to get the most out of the experience this will be a great show to watch.
Email me any questions you have to email@example.com. You will remain anonymous on the webcast and I will not share your identity with our experts so feel free to ask your most pressing questions.
You can see our previous episode (here).
The controversy that erupted this summer over the World Press Photo award winning image taken by Paul Hansen has forced the organization to examine their contest rules. In a press release on October 2nd announcing contest chair Gary Knight, Managing Director Michiel Munneke explained: “We have evaluated the contest rules and protocols and examined how to create more transparency, and we have changed the procedures for examining the files during the judging. We will announce further details when the 2014 Photo Contest opens for entries later this year, but the bottom line is that we will need to be able to rely on the integrity and professionalism of the participating photographers.”
Relying on the integrity of photographers is fine when it comes to the level of manipulation where things are added and removed from images, but the larger issue is that World Press Photo in the past has allowed the jury to decide what it deems “currently accepted standards in the industry” for retouching. And this opaque rule is what allowed a mob to form and go after Paul Hansen in the first place. Here are their rules for retouching at the time:
The contest entry rules state that the content of the images must not be altered. Only retouching which conforms to currently accepted standards in the industry is allowed. The jury will consider what they deem acceptable in each category during the judging
I hope that an organization with the reputation of World Press Photo will tell the world what these “currently accepted standards” are and set an example for newspapers, magazines and other contests. Despite the finger wagging of publications like PDN (ironically pushing over a dozen photo contests of their own) at the mob’s accusations towards Paul, the problem lies not with the blogger’s headlines, but rules that leave photographers hanging out to dry when questions arise.
The darkroom is long gone and a RAW image can have many different interpretations as it’s brought to life on the computer screen. Expecting photographers to not produce contest winning interpretations when entering World Press Photo is folly.
On Wednesday October 16th at 2pm EST (11am PST) there’s going to be a live webcast here on the blog and over on google plus where we discuss working in editorial and commercial photography. Basically the mission of this blog only in a webcast where I can have guests and take questions from people watching. I’ve already done one as sort of a test run that you can check out and decide if it’s something you’d be interested in watching here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WrS77wlfzYw
Vimeo version here: https://vimeo.com/76621579
The goal is to try a new format for discussing topics of interests for Professional Photographers and because I don’t think there’s much out there for pros it should be worth producing a few times a month. I also like the idea of having guests on and discussing everything freeform instead of writing blog posts, something I’m doing less and less of 6 + years into this. Each episode with have myself representing the editorial perspective and Suzanne Sease talking commercial photography plus a guest or two. Next week our guest is Art Producer Kat Dalager. Send me any questions you might have on the topic of Art Production.
I have had many, many times when jobs fall through for reasons that are outside of my control. There haven’t been many times though when I’ve actively said no to a job and until last week, there had never been a time where I turned down a good paying job from a respectable agency because of ethical concerns.
That’s right. I left money on the table because I didn’t feel comfortable using my skill set to promote this particular client’s product. It was an extremely difficult decision. August is traditionally a slow month for me so when work comes along, and it’s paying reasonable rates, it’s really hard to say no. In this case however, I just couldn’t bring myself to work for this client. Without naming names (and please don’t try to guess), I will say that this client promotes a particular product that I just don’t fully support. I don’t think it’s good for people, the environment, our country or our future.
The reason I don’t want to identify this client is because the people who work for their agency of record are good people whom I like and want to continue to work with. I don’t want my ethical dilemma to reflect negatively on the agency’s business. This is an important point because I greatly value relationships and as a freelancer and small business owner it’s paramount that I maintain good working relationships.
The agency understood my position and even respected my decision. Which is pretty amazing when you think about it. There they were, offering me good money to shoot a job that countless other photographers would probably jump at. And here I am saying no to a job that didn’t even require any negotiation. Here’s the budget, here’s the shot list, it’s yours if you want it.
And, here’s the kicker. The actual assignment sounded interesting to me. I think it would have been a lot of fun to shoot, but I just couldn’t reconcile my feelings about how the images would be used. I thought long and hard about this assignment, but ultimately I had to turn it down. I like to think that I’m sticking to my ethical code and that I’m above selling out, but I wonder how the decision would have been different if the fee for the job could have been “life changing” for me and my family. Where do you draw the line and how do you balance supporting your family and maintaining a good conscience? There is a lot of gray area and only you can make the decision.
For now though, I feel good about not taking the job. Do I wish I was making money right now? Yes, but there are other jobs out there. Just to prove my point, literally within one hour of deciding to turn down this job I received an email from another agency asking me to bid on a much better job for a client that I can really pour all my energy into. Now just keep your fingers crossed that I win the bid.
This post originally appeared here: http://www.playingworkblog.com/2013/08/i-could-be-shooting-right-now-instead-im-writing-this/
A follow up post can be read here: http://www.playingworkblog.com/2013/09/the-opportunity-to-choose
It may already be too late. Houzz appears to be using the images posted by professional photographers to illustrate editorial stories they create for the front of the site. One photographer was contacted by a staff writer to find out who built what was depicted in the images with no mention of licensing the images for this reuse.
It’s not unusual for social media sites to have onerous terms when it comes to posting your images on their site. Generally this is because they have to host the images on servers which may be located anywhere in the world and repost the images at will for other people to see. To solve this they take all your rights… We’re all suspicious of what might come next but so far that’s been the extent of what they do.
Houzz has taken the first step in reuse that should be of great concern for professional photographers. Paying writers to create editorial content with images uploaded to the site competes directly with existing editorial outlets that pay for a similar use. So not only are they ripping off photographers they’re stealing readers from outlets with their free content. And as Houzz works towards a profitable business model they will start selling advertising against their freely obtained content… and their evil plan will be complete.
I’ve written about this before but it’s worth mentioning again. Google, Facebook, Twitter, Houzz, et al have not reinvented the wheel here (despite all the talk about new business models). They’ve simply discovered a lower cost way to obtain content: free (the business model of free has been around forever). And they’re now selling advertising against that content which is no different than how the New York Times, GQ, etc. operate. Except of course, those guys all pay for their content.
Photographer Caren Alpert first alerted me to the Terms on houzz.com:
“As part of your use of the Website, you may participate in certain ideabooks, message boards, member communications and/or other public forums. Your participation is voluntary; however, by choosing to create ideabooks, post photos or comments, send any messages, submit any ideas or feedback, or otherwise participate in any Houzz forum, you acknowledge and agree that any postings, messages, text, photos, audio/visual works, information, suggestions, feedback, reviews or content provided by you (collectively, “Content”) may be viewed by the general public and will not be treated as private, proprietary or confidential, and you authorize us and our affiliates, licensees and sublicensees, without compensation to you or others, to copy, adapt, create derivative works of, reproduce, incorporate, distribute, publicly display or otherwise use or exploit such Content throughout the world in any format or media (whether now known or hereafter created) for the duration of any copyright or other rights in such Content, and such permission shall be perpetual and may not be revoked for any reason. Further, to the extent permitted under applicable law, you waive and release and covenant not to assert any moral rights that you may have in any Content posted or provided by you.”
My post a couple of years ago about jobs in China on A Photo Editor occasionally generates some interested persons to reach out and take the time to email me about working in Beijing, Shanghai, or perhaps Shenzhen. There have been no takers that I am aware of for the jobs though, and the reasons are interesting, curious, worthy of review. I’m now at the two and a half years point in my relocation from New York City to Beijing; well beyond the rose-colored glasses, but not blinded by the smog either. This is an update to that storyline, which I thought would be interesting to APE’s readership, all of who undoubtedly hear a lot about the wonders of the Chinese economy. So bizarre and numerous are the stories in the news, that now The New York Times, Getty Images, and iStockphoto are all blocked in China along with just about every serious social media outlet produced in the United States, including Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.
Shaun Rein, an agile entrepreneurial consultant to industries interested in relocations to China, and I occasionally trade communication about the amazing adjustments necessary here and which make working in China as a small foreign business very difficult. Add on top of these situations, that I have initiated a creative-based business, and it’s been a ripe learning experience. In under the first two years, I bailed a job applicant out of a silence-only windowless detention center, was blackmailed by a college student intern, was locked inside of a store and manhandled to purchase knockoff wardrobe, been visited by local officials bearing cameras and voice recorders, been encouraged to pay countless kickbacks (particularly for models), had company salaries removed from the office (while I was on vacation), and then blocked from the market of Mainland China by a competitor. It’s thus a little tongue and cheek to say that I have learned more about operational fundamentals in Beijing via episodes of AMC’s Breaking Bad, than stories in Businessweek. That is not to say that McKinsey and Company level expertise is not warranted in this market, but rather that such operational mechanisms are handled, as Shaun Rein has reminded me, at the Fortune 500 level, and not the small entrepreneurial startup arena of 50 workers or less, locally referred to as SMEs (Small Medium Enterprises).
China is amazingly interesting now; yes, despite the hurdles. We just saw the initiation of a new government and officially mandated Five Year Plan adjustment. The country is blossoming in subtlety as I learn the local language and become increasingly aware of the social context framework. I have, and I really do believe this, the hardest working production team that I have ever had anywhere, here now operational in Beijing. We’re having fun (it’s important to remember that) and we’re making images in droves that were never available before to the Chinese economy (our modus operandi). All are model and property released with technical specifications for global advertising, from a market overflowing in IPR theft and with little historical involvement in international advertising. It’s an entrepreneurial venture that has awakened in me all the challenges that I was seeking and for which New York City no longer provided during The Great Recession of 2008 forward.
This write-up is an insider’s take on the notorious economy in China for foreign commercial art creatives interested in participating. It is important to know that the manner of the mechanics of the economy here in China are different than in the US, where equal opportunity meets equal amounts of work. China is very much divided in the scope of work available and where the jobs are going. In the years since the post on APE, I have come to know, and probably more so accept, that the economy in China is and will be for a very long time barred from foreign participation unless the individual is embedded near permanently locally. This makes what may seem like “doing business in China” very difficult for one-off trips of assignment work. That does not mean that there is no opportunity to pursue, but those opportunities would be best spent (for a foreigner’s time and money), in contacting the normal routes of introduction to clients…i.e., ad agencies in Asia, or, better yet, advertising/design agencies in the West with the interests in sending a photographer abroad to do the work.
That’s the short take.
The longer take, important to us all since this is looking to be among the preeminent future economies in the world, is that the reasons for this lay within the manner in which the Chinese economy is situating itself. The meat and potatoes are essentially this: there are two types of jobs in China.
In Group 1, are the Chinese client jobs aimed to local talent; primarily focused on price (about 1/3rd the foreign norm), and not particularly focused on creative achievement but rather “technical achievement” (can the chosen worker do the work performed?). A lot of the latter deals with lacks of trust running between Chinese society and their government, the manners of establishing credibility in the market, the educational system setup, and the like. The work is provided through networks of communication (one’s work relationships), and it takes time to get those and even longer to maintain them. One would have to be in China to navigate this, and I do not see this system changing in the near future. If one had an interest in pursuing Chinese clientele, the scope of obtaining the jobs is much more labor intensive than a drop of a portfolio and massage of a budget. One would have to be in the trust network, and provide a lot of pre-emptive service to estimate, re-estimate, shoot tests, and the like, in order to establish an assignment. This would be an assignment, which in the end, would not generally remunerate for the time to do this setup work. Thus, the market is going to remain segmented. To do this from abroad is logistically not possible. As Shaun mentions, “it can be challenging for foreign creatives to work with Chinese clients, as historically Chinese firms are not willing to pay top dollar for creative services and consulting while they are for something tangible like hardware.”
In Group 2, there is foreign client work using both local and foreign talent and the work is budgeted according to both international price and local price. It varies widely and depends on the job. These jobs are often being situated in editorial focus, such as events and news stories, corporate portraits, and similar kinds of work. Actual advertising work is channeling for Westerners by the Westerner being connected primarily to the Western client before China becomes the focus. Thus, the manner of getting the work is similar to the way that photographers are marketing now. This is the system in which one has a potential client knowledgeable about their commercial artwork, and the client happens to have an assignment in China, or India, or Chile, or Fargo, North Dakota. This manner protects the photographer for licensing and payment, the bigger concern being simply getting paid. The local established method of money trading hands in China is almost always one half of the money up front, and the other half upon delivery. This delivery part can leave the living-abroad individual hanging if there are not protective mechanisms in the middle. One has very little power in Chinese legal systems (both Chinese and foreigners alike).
After two years, numerous jobs have come across my desk, but in nearly every case they have fallen into one of the two groups above. Time and again, interestingly, I have listened to foreign photographers living in China resolutely state that all their work is generated from foreign-only clients, and I found this odd. Odd because, often their experience, their years on the ground, their language abilities, even their Chinese friends, would all seem to suggest that other options were available to these candidates. But, I did not come across situations where this factually, more than hearsay, appeared to be the case in marketing and actual work performed. It could be that this market in China is generally quite underdeveloped in maturity compared to the Western focus of photography/creative economies seen in other major cities where there is mentorship, “rules” of engagement, and situations inducing competition to innovate. Certainly this is the case to a large degree, as standardization is wide here, but still difficult to measure since there is no over encompassing organization and each individual is mostly left to his/her own manners of development.
China is a very interesting place and economy. In many ways, I wish that there were more easily-situated work available to back up the post online a couple years back, but what I came to learn was that those offers were in Group 1 above, and generally not realistically obtained for those working outside of China. It may be the case that as my understanding of Chinese work and life continues, I will see yet another subtlety to the situation and go back on my analysis here as to why these market offers of work are not being met with foreigners showing up and actually doing that work. Clearly there is money flowing in China and there is work to be had, but it’s the mechanisms and logistics that are barring foreign operators from participation. China has everything that the West has, but it has its own local version: YouKu is China’s YouTube, Weibo is our Facebook, and all of these established Western websites are blocked. This should give a taste for the complications and when one multiplies them by the idiosyncrasies of daily life, it makes what seems as easy as a plane ticket and visa, quite relatively removed.
The bottom line is this: One, do not expect it to be easy to work in China. Two, do not expect on-the-ground support to the degree of comfort and planning that the West offers. Three, plan to exercise a great deal of patience upon each setback. Four, plan on needing to be present for supervision and quality control throughout the process. Five, the cultural barrier is greater than the language barrier. Six, jobs pay less. Seven, everything is transient, have multiple backup plans. Eight, China isn’t inexpensive for foreign businesses anymore. Nine, the Kung Po Chicken tastes better. Ten, the Chinese experience is exhilarating.
Guest Post by Erin Patrice O’Brien
I was doing a shoot last week for Golf Digest with Christian Iooss, the magazine’s director of photography. We were photographing a celebrity who golfs with a bunch of set-ups. I have worked with Christian and his deputy picture editor, Kerry Brady, a few times in the past.
It occurred to me that this was probably Christian’s first shoot where he just happened to be surrounded by all women. On that day, my two assistants,Lyndsey Newcomb and Rebecca Reed, were women, and the prop stylist Helen Quinn also had an entirely female crew. Christian and I talked about the differences between men and women photographers, some of which were apparent, others seemingly assumed by certain photo editors.
I always recognized that the editorial side of media seems to embrace, or at least maintain, the good-ole-boy network. It’s bothered me for some time, particularly given the female talent in the market on the demand and supply sides. There are plenty of amazing women photographers out there who are not getting hired by magazines in spite of the fact that the majority of photo editors are women. I’m pretty sure the break out among photo editors is 80% women and 20% men. With that figure in mind, I realized that of the editors who hired me it was a 50/50 split of female to male. The same thing goes for art buyers. Seriously.
After the shoot, Christian forwarded me a thoughtful blog post by a photographer named Daniel Shea. Daniel observed that there was an absence of women working on the magazines for which he was currently shooting and questioned why?
Thank you, Daniel. I have been questioning this for a very long time.
When in college, I spent hours at the library, looking at photographers whose work captured my imagination. I was into Sally Mann, Nan Goldin,Richard Avedon and Helen Levitt. When I opened magazines, I was inspired by the work of Annie Leibowitz, Sheila Metzner, Sarah Moon, Peggy Sirota,Pamela Hanson, Brigitte Lacombe and Ellen von Unworth. They were doing what I wanted to do. They were women photographers with their own vision who were making beautiful work. Mary Ellen Mark was my idol, closely followed by Melodie McDaniel, Cleo Sullivan, Dana Lixenberg and Elaine Constantine.
I would scour magazines to find the latest and most interesting work. I would rip out the pages from Vibe, Paper, and i-D with the work of Melanie Mcdaniel, Elaine Constantine, Dana Lixenberg, Cleo Sullivan, Anna Palma and Corinne Day. They inspired me. I loved their work. I loved their perspective. It made me think in a different way, and I learned from it. I would read The New York Times and be inspired by Brenda Ann Keneally. I printed at Printspace next to Baerbel Schmidt, Justine Kurland, Imke Lass, Sylvia Otte, Gillian Laub, Elinor Carlucci, Tracey Baran and an assortment of guys whose careers took shape much differently than mine.
When I arrived in New York City in 1995, I began assisting many photographers, including Jill Greenberg, Tria Giovan, Anna Palma and Ellen Silverman, none of who had assisted and all of whom had their careers going. I also worked for a bunch of male photographers. It was much harder to be a female assistant. I would work for fashion photographers as a second assistant and literally feel invisible on the set because the other women were skinny models who were sixteen years old. When I would pick up from the equipment rooms at any of the big studios, I was routinely treated like a “girl who couldn’t possibly know anything.” The men running the equipment rooms were bullies who hated their jobs and took it out on assistants who were not part of the cool club. Pier 59 anyone?
What I learned from Jill Greenberg was that you didn’t have to know everything technically. One could figure it out by experimenting or have an assistant show you how to do it. I saw her experiment and test things and be creative. She knew what she wanted. Jill was just a year older than me and she was doing it. We had our differences, but she took Michele Pedone and me under her wing and gave us solid work for a year on cool shoots as opposed to working for still life photographers wiping off perfume bottles.
When I look through magazines or online, if I see a picture that I love, 9 times out of 10 it is the work of a female photographer.
George Pitts was instrumental in hiring women and black photographers and showing a completely different perspective to the world. Vibe was first where I saw many incredible female photographers. It was breathtaking. Pitts told me once that he thought women were better photographers and it really stuck with me because I agreed. My favorite photographers have always been women.
I can’t tell you the number of times that people would come to my shoot and walk right past me looking for the photographer. Or how many times that I’ve been asked if I was the makeup artist simply because I was a woman standing on the set.
Some female photo editors who will go unmentioned that I have worked with put their own glass ceiling issues above women photographers.
Translation: Women don’t frequently help other women in business, even when it benefits both. A lot of times my work and that of other female photographers is relegated to the front of the book (magazine speak for work appearing before the feature well), while male photographers get the cover or the big feature story. Conversely, some of the male photo editors that I’ve worked with have given me some of my most challenging assignments that I am sure a female photo editor in the same position would never give to a woman.
There are many female photo editors who really do hire equally and have supported me throughout my career, and I am very thankful for and could not have succeeded without them: Leslie dela Vega, Doris Brautigan, Nickie Gostin, Michelle Molloy, Brenna Britton, Kathy Ryan, Crary Pullen, Lucy Gilmour, Donna Cohen, Rebecca Simpson Steele, Amelia Haverson, Fiona MacDonagh, Kathy Nguyen, Rebecca Horne, Heidi Volpe, Florence Nash, Helen Cannavale, Phaedra Brown, Julie Claire, Ernie Monteiro, Donna Cohen, Sarah Harbutt, Yvonne Stender, Kate Osba, Raquel Boler and Michele Romero…to name a bunch.
When I was pregnant, I was worried that no one would hire me if they knew, so I didn’t tell any photo editors until I wasn’t allowed to fly anymore. After I had my daughter, Maya, photo editors like Marianne Butler, Victoria Rich and Suzanne Regan hooked me up with jobs that were in NYC for a while, or said you can bring the baby.
When I get a call for a shoot, usually my first call is not to secure an assistant, but to make sure I have childcare coverage. I live in a community where I know other parents that are able to pick up my daughter if my shoot runs late or even have her sleep over. I feel blessed to make a living as a photographer. I love what I do.
And those skills of being able to manage a business, a household and a child are things that have taught me to troubleshoot and always be prepared for surprises that require solutions. I know that if an assistant, stylist or babysitter doesn’t show up I will still be able to do the job.
Daniel Shea says, “In my own personal experience shooting high-profile people and situations, shoots can get tense quickly, and you have to be able to be aggressive and assertive in a time-crunch situation. That is in no way meant to suggest that women can’t do that, but here is where sexism rears its ugly head—if women are perceived as being less able to handle those situations, that can definitely factor into the decision to hire men.”
The constant multitasking that is my life as a woman, mother and photographer makes me more qualified to deal with time crunch and stressful situations better than most. I am completely confident when doing three set-ups in an hour, which I did the other day, or handling the “you will have 10 minutes with this person” shoots. I can do these shoots with my kid pulling my hair or climbing on me because I can shut out everything except the shoot. It’s the nature of the job. It’s also my life.
One photo editor I spoke to told me, “As a photo editor (and not a photo director), I get to choose a short list of photographers, send them to my boss and hopes that he/she picks the one I want to use. I think a lot of time PEs want to hire women and their directors go for the guys—I don’t know why that is, maybe because they have a history, maybe its because their name is better-known. I have had many—MANY—conversations with editor friends of mine who keep having to hire the same male photographers because that is what their boss wants, I think most, if not all, PEs see the ratio and realize it’s fucked up.”
Women and men get different things from their subjects. It’s how we relate to each other. This is an important conversation. I know that Daniel Shea is compiling a list of female photographers that he would endorse which is great. I have my own list worth sharing.
My list has been in my head since I started shooting, and it keeps getting bigger. I am always checking out and inspired by the really cool work of women photographers. What female photographers’ work matters most lately? Delphine Diallo and Sarah Wilmer blow me away. Livia Corona, Lauren Greenfield, Gail Albert Halaban and Elaine Constantine are all doing things in different media, but to great effect and on their terms. Dulce Pinzon,Maggie Soladay, Amanda Kostner and LaToya Ruby Frazier are pushing cultural, social and economic boundaries with their extraordinary work. Sandra Myhrberg started her own fashion magazine, called Odalisque, where she employs a ton of women photographers. And the female brands behind some of the biggest corporate brands: Olivia Bee and Elizabeth Weinberg.
That Daniel Shea is bringing up this issue is important. But what of the many women—photo editors, for example—who can do the same but choose to sit on the sidelines instead, avoiding taking risks and playing it safe to their own career benefit? Women will rise in greater numbers when other women take risks by pushing the talents of unknown and little-known women, and by the continued support of men who have the power and influence to get women recognized. It’s not an either-or scenario. Both things have to happen. And men need to stop hiring other men who are just like them. By default that places women at a disadvantage.
Here is a big list of women photographers who are all…. killing it.
Alessandra Petlin http://alessandrapetlin.com
Alison Aliano http://www.alysonaliano.com
Angie Smith http://angiesmithphotography.com
Anna Bauer http://www.annabauer.com
Annie Liebowitz http://annieleibovitz.tumblr.com
Autumn de Wilde http://www.autumndewilde.com
Barbel Schmidt http://www.baerbelschmidt.com
Cara Bloch http://carabloch.com
Cass Bird http://www.cassbird.com/
Catherine Ledner http://www.catherineledner.com
Christina Gandolfo http://www.cgandolfo.com
Dana Lixenberg http://www.danalixenberg.com
Danielle Levitt http://daniellelevitt.com
Darcy Hemley http://www.darcyhemley.com
Delphine Diallo http://www.delphinediawdiallo.com
Dulce Pinzon http://www.dulcepinzon.com
Elaine Constantine http://www.elaineconstantine.co.uk
Elizabeth Weinberg http://elizabethweinberg.com
Emily Shur http://www.emilyshur.com
Erika Larsen http://erikalarsenphoto.com
Erin Patrice O’Brien http://erinpatriceobrien.com
Eugenie Frerichs http://eugeniefrerichs.com
Flora Hantijo http://florahanitijo.com
Gabriela Hasbun http://www.gabrielahasbun.com
Gillian Laub www.gillianlaub.com/
Jessica Antola http://antolaphoto.com
Jessica Wynne http://jessicawynnephoto.com
Jill Greenberg http://www.jillgreenberg.com
Kendrick brinson http://kendrickbrinson.com
Kyoko Hamada http://www.kyokohamada.com
Lisa Wiseman http://www.lisawiseman.com
Lamia Maria Abillama http://www.lamiaabillama.com
Lori Adamski Peek http://www.adamskipeek.com
Mackenzie Stroh http://www.mackenziestroh.com
Martha Camarillo http://marthacamarillo.com
Mary Ellen Matthews http://www.jedroot.com
Megan Peterson http://www.meghanpetersen.com
Meredith Jenks http://www.meredithjenks.com
Michele Asselin http://www.asselinphotography.com
Michelle Pedone http://www.michellepedone.com
Morgan Levy http://morganrlevy.com
Naomi Harris http://naomiharris.com
Olivia Locher http://olivialocher.com
R. Jerome Ferraro http://www.jeromepix.com
Robin Twomey http://www.robyntwomey.com
Sage Sohier http://www.sagesohier.com
Sarah Wilson http://www.sarahwilsonphotography.com
Susana Howe http://www.susannahowe.com
Sylvia Otte http://www.silviaotte.com
Sarah Wilmer http://sarahwilmer.com
Amanda Marsalis http://www.amandamarsalis.com
Anna Wolf http://www.annawolf.com
Beth Perkins http://www.bethperkins.com
Brigitte Sire http://brigittesire.com
Catherine Wessel http://www.cathrinewessel.com
Chloe Aftel http://www.chloeaftel.com
Christa Renee http://www.christarenee.com
Debra LaCoppola http://photoduo.com
Ditte Isager http://www.ditteisager.dk
Emily Nathan http://www.emilynathan.com
Erica Shires http://www.ericashires.com
Ericka McConnell http://erickamcconnell.com
Jennifer Rocholl http://www.jenniferrocholl.com
Karan Kapoor http://www.karankapoor.com
Kate Powers http://katepowers.com
Kathryn Wolkoff http://katherinewolkoff.com
Melanie Acevedo http://www.melanieacevedo.com
Nina Anderson http://www.ninaandersson.com
Olivia Bee http://www.oliviabee.com
Samantha Casolari http://www.samanthacasolari.com
Sarah Kehoe http://www.sarahkehoephoto.com
Sue Parkhill http://www.sueparkhill.com
Terry Doyle http://terrydoylephoto.com
Thayer Gowdy http://thayergowdy.com
Venetia Scott http://www.clmuk.com/photography/venetia-scott
Fashion and Beauty
Amanda Pratt http://www.amandapratt.com
Amber Gray http://www.ambergray.net
Anna Palma http://annapalma.com
Caroline Knopf http://www.carolineknopf.com
Catherine Servel http://catherineservel.tumblr.com
Chloe Mallet http://www.raybrownpro.com/
Claudia Fried http://claudiafried.com
Claudia Goetzelman http://www.claudiagoetzelmann.com
Cleo Sullivan www.cleosullivan.com
Colleen Rentmeister http://www.colienarentmeester.com
Corinne Day http://www.corinneday.co.uk
Daniela Federici http://danielafederici.com
Elinor Stigle http://www.ellinorstigle.com
Ellen Stagg http://thestaggparty.com
Ellen Von Unwerth http://www.ellenvonunwerth.com
Gabriele Revere http://www.gabriellerevere.com
Indira Cesarine http://www.indiracesarine.com
Jamie Isaia http://jamieisaia.com
Jennifer Livingston http://www.jenniferlivingston.com
Julia Pogodina http://www.juliapogodina.com
Karen Collins http://karencollinsphoto.com
Kate Orne http://kateorne.com
Liz Von Hoene http://www.lizvonhoene.com
Melodie McDaniel http://www.melodiemcdaniel.com
Micaela Rosato http://micaelarossato.com
Ondrea Barbe http://ondreabarbe.com
Pamela Hanson http://pamelahanson.com
Paola Kudacki http://www.clmuk.com/photography/paola-kudacki
Sandra Myhrberg http://sandramyhrberg.com
Sarah Moon http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarah_Moon
Sarah Silver http://www.sarahsilver.com
Sheila Metzner http://www.sheilametzner.com
Yelena Yumchuk http://www.2bmanagement.com/
Still Life, Food Interiors Lifestyle
Alexandra Rowley http://www.alexandrarowley.com
Amy Eckerton http://www.amyeckertphoto.com
Andrea Chu http://chucandy.com
Andrea Wyner http://www.andreawyner.com
Anita Valero http://anitacalero.com
Anna Williams http://annawilliams.com
Aya Brackett http://www.ayabrackett.com
Beth Galton http://bethgalton.com
Beatriz Dacosta http://www.beatrizdacosta.com
Burcu Avsar http://www.burcuavsar.com
Diana Koenigsberg http://www.dianakoenigsberg.com
Ellen Silverman http://www.ellensilverman.com
Erika Rojas http://erikarojasphotography.com
Erin Kunkel http://erinkunkel.com
Katherine Barnard http://kathrynbarnardphoto.com
Leela Syd http://leelacyd.com
Linda Pugliese http://www.lindapugliese.com
Ngoc Minh Ngo http://patbates.com/ngoc_minh_ngo/
Melissa Punch http://www.melissapunch.com
Moya McAllister http://www.moyamcallister.com
Maura McEvoy http://www.mauramcevoy.com
Rachel Watson http://rachelwatson.com
Rita Maas http://www.ritamaas.com
Sara Remington http://www.sararemington.com
Tara Donne http://www.taradonne.com
Tria Giovan http://triagiovan.com/
Amanda Koster http://www.amandakoster.com
Amira al Sharif http://www.amiraalsharif.com
Anastasia Rudenko http://www.anastasiarudenko.com
Andrea Gjestvang http://andreagjestvang.com
Annabel Clark http://www.annabelclark.net
Brenda Ann Keneally http://www.brendakenneally.com
Chiara Goia http://www.chiaragoia.com
Chloe Dewe Mathews http://www.chloedewemathews.com/hasidic-holiday/
Christina Paige http://www.christinapaige.com
Dorothy Hong http://www.dothong.com
Elissa Bogos http://elissabogos.squarespace.com
Ericka McDonald http://www.ericamcdonaldphoto.com
Emily Berl http://www.emilyberlphoto.com
Erin Siegel McIntyre http://about.me/erinsiegal
Gail Albert Halaban http://www.gailalberthalaban.com
Imke lass http://imkelass.com
Jessica Dimmock http://www.jessicadimmockphotography.com
Katarina Premfors http://www.katarinapremfors.com ngo, inspirational
Kate Brooks http://www.katebrooks.com
Kathryn Cook http://www.agencevu.com
Katrina Dautremont http://katrinadautremont.com
Latoya Ruby Frazier http://www.latoyarubyfrazier.com
Lauren Fleischman http://www.laurenfleishman.com
This post originally appears here: http://erinpatriceobrien.tumblr.com/post/60936647347/a-response-to-sexism-in-editorial-photography
Guest post by Mason Adams
Compared to print and web, mobile advertising is cheap. A print insertion can cost $40 CPM (Cost Per Thousand) while popular sites like Gawker sell banners for $10/thousand. Mobile averages $2.85.
This summer Mercedes hired 5 Instagrammers with the mobile-centric agency Tinker Street to shoot their own road trip in the new CLA class - the person with the most likes at the end of the trip won a 3 year lease on the car.
“Take the Wheel brings together some of Instagram’s most influential photographers including: Paul Octavious(432,000 followers), Tim Landis (523,000 followers), Michael O’Neal (487,000 followers); Alice Gao (538,000 followers); and Chris Ozer(503,000 followers). Each “like” from their followers will bring them closer to the car.”
It’s a direction many brands and agencies are experimenting with and it begs the question: are the photographers being paid for their images or for access to their followers?
According to the Mercedes social media lead, the CLA Instagram campaign reached almost 90 million impressions (number of photos multiplied by the number of followers on the 5 accounts). At $2.85 CPM that comes to a media buy of $256,500, or a minimum fee of $50,000 per photographer (on top of the normal creative fees and expenses). Except that engagement on Instagram is normally 18 times higher than other mobile services. On the upper end, that’s $900,000 per photographer. Even without knowing the exact numbers, it’s easy to speculate that by hiring Instagrammers, Mercedes got the deal of a lifetime in advertising.
Photography is still the most important and impactful tool for advertisers to spread their message. This isn’t just an opinion, it’s reflected over and over in the statistics of companies that use photos to promote their products online. If educated about the true costs of advertising, I imagine that photographers with a large online audience would think twice about selling their followers out for a 3-year car lease.
We emailed Art Buyers and Art Producers around the world asking them to submit names of established photographers who were keeping it fresh and up-and-comers who they are keeping their eye on. If you are an Art Buyer/Producer or an Art Director at an agency and want to submit a photographer anonymously for this column email: Suzanne.firstname.lastname@example.org
Anonymous Art producer: I nominate Jeremy and Claire Weiss of Day 19. They are established but their work is nice and fresh. They also are very low key to work with and create no problems on set. They are very flexible when things change. I recently worked with them a campaign. There were a lot of problems on my side with the talent, which were musicians due to legal matters, and they sailed through drama free and accommodated the production 110 percent.
How many years have you been in business?
I don’t know how long I would call it a legitimate business but starting getting some paying gigs around 2000 when we moved to Los Angeles. Claire and I didn’t start shooting together until 2006 and she waited tables up until 2007 and I would do movie extra work (it’s an easy gig in LA) and go on tour with bands selling merch and make little photo ‘zines with the tour photos and sell them to pay rent. I did that up until 2006 when we got a pretty big advertising job out of the blue, but that money went fast paying off debts so we were broke again in 2007. So to take an easy question and give it a difficult answer we have been making a living solely off of photography since 2008. I think people always saw us as bigger than we were really because we shot some pretty popular albums for friend’s bands but that paid pennies.
We both realized very early on we would never make great assistants, I tried twice and both times it ended pretty badly and I don’t think Claire ever even tried.
Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
Both. Claire and I met while we were both attending a county college in New Jersey where I was taking a photo class because I had shot a roll of film at a concert and this fanzine Anti-Matter wanted to publish it but only if the print had a black border around it. I had no idea what that even meant so I took a printing class to learn how. A teacher named Charles Luce showed me the magic of a filed negative holder at County College of Morris in 1998. I urged Claire to start taking some photo classes too and she fell in love with the darkroom. I miss the black border; it was like a badge of honor that you didn’t crop.
Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
The influences to start taking photos and to get into the business of taking pictures are totally different. I am from NJ and grew up taking the train into NY to skate every day and go to shows. I would always see guys like Ari Marcopolous, Chris Toliver, Tim Owen, and Larry Clark taking photos and I was intrigued by them but always too shy to talk to them. I got a camera from my mom and starting taking photos of my friends hanging out like I imagined their photos looked like. That’s what got me to start shooting and the eventually led me to take that class so I could make better prints than A&P was giving me.
Strangely enough the person who turned us on to the commercial world of photography we are in now was a photo rep who seeked me out because of the photos she had seen in one of those many photo ‘zines we had made. I guess someone showed her one and she called me and wanted to meet. She asked to see my portfolio but I only had photos taped into these black sketchbooks. It was her idea for Claire and I to work together because when she was helping me build a proper portfolio she wanted to use a photo of Jack Black that Claire had taken backstage at Coachella, so we ended up building a portfolio of both of our work in it. We didn’t really realize our work could fit into the advertising world, it wasn’t even something we aspired to until we started getting some advertising gigs and realized the clients and agencies just wanted us to shoot like we were shooting our friends.
How do you find your inspiration to be so fresh, push the envelope, stay true to yourself so that creative folks are noticing you and hiring you?
I think we are each other’s biggest inspiration. We get a kick out of bouncing ideas off of each other and there’s a healthy competition between the two of us to get an amazing shot. We only know how to shoot the way we do so we are always being honest with ourselves. Advertising came to us; we didn’t change our way of shooting to cater to the ad world. I’ve seen a lot of people, assistants and others; completely change their style to what the trend happening was. We had an assistant shoot in that super sharp ultra realistic whatever its called style when it was hip a couple years back and now they shoot “lifestyle”. Such a terrible word.
Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
Years ago we did. Our book would get us in the door but clients would always seem scared away probably because we had photos of a guy with Slayer carved into his back or a girl with a bloody nose in there too.
These days we have enough pretty successful campaigns under our belt that it makes it easier for clients to look past the tattooed lip photos etc.
What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
Honestly, we don’t do much self-promotion. We need to do more for sure. Our agency Giant Artists makes a book once a year that includes everyone on the roster that people seem to dig and we send out an email every couple months that maybe 3 people click. I’d say its mostly the work we’ve done speaks for itself and word of mouth gets us most of our work. We’ve had art buyers tell us that a creative director would put one of our photos on their desk and say, “find out who shot this” more than a handful of times. It’s flattering.
What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
Maybe it works for them, who knows? Our motto has always been show what you wanna shoot.
Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
We have an ongoing Polaroid Project that we do when we get a chance that’s more of an excuse to meet people doing cool shit than anything else. It’s pretty much the same photo of different people, Claire shoots one and I shoot one.
We don’t see much of a separation though of what we shoot for clients and what we shoot for ourselves. Maybe the stuff we shoot that’s not commissioned is a bit darker but that stuff usually gets referenced for an upcoming shoot when we end up showing it. Our goal going into every job is to want to completely redo our portfolio with the images when we are done. We’ve been lucky too that any idea we have outside of something we’ve gotten hired to shoot we’ve pitched to a magazine ahead of time and they gave us space to print it.
We’ve never done a “test shoot”.
How often are you shooting new work?
Never not shooting.
Jeremy & Claire Weiss split their time between Los Angeles, CA and Big Bear Lake, CA with their 5 year old son Eli.
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.