Newsprint is back! Of the 7 most common promo types I receive, newsprint promos are the most creative and exciting. I just love the feel and look of it, plus the enormous space creative photographers have available to work with. Here are the memorable newsprint promos from 2015:
Not only are the pictures great in this promo the photographer doesn’t live in NY or LA and is proud of it. Love the map because many times you have to do research to figure out where they actually live.
Kenneth M. Ruggiano
A promo in the mail showing motion?! Yeah, I was pretty blown away when I got this promo in 2015:
The pack of single image promos is probably the most useful and accessible promo there is for photographers. You don’t need a great designer, you can stick to your best images, there are plenty of printers available who do a great job with this and it’s fairly inexpensive compared to other promo types. Best of all, the recipient has a variety of images to choose from to save and remember you by. Here are the best I saw in 2015:
My mail lady delivers a lot of promos and she told me this one was passed around the post office in Durango as a favorite. Way to go Andy!
The foldout promo is a new one for me because it wasn’t popular many years ago when I was a photo editor and I have to say I think it’s awesome. It’s not entirely practical for tacking to the bulletin board or saving, but it has a great impact with the ability to show a poster size image along with a collection of smaller ones. Here are the foldout promos that stood out to me in 2015:
The multi-panel is one of the 7 main styles of promos and excellent for connecting a series of images and, in general, making an impression with the design, printing and photography all connected. Here are the promos that were memorable in 2015:
While I would never recommend that photographers send a gift or a tchotchke as a promo, in some cases it fits the photographers personality or genre perfectly and really works. Leonard Greco hit a home run with this one:
There seem to be 7 popular types of promos (postcard, pack-of-singles, multi-panel, foldout, newsprint, zine and booklet). Of all 7 the booklet is the most difficult to get right. The printing and design need to be at a certain level to appeal to the advertising and editorial community but the real killer is the edit. Get it down to the best images, making a great sequence and stopping while you are ahead are all hallmarks of a great promo booklet. Here are many that I found compelling in 2015:
Is there any better promo than having a book of your photography to send out? Perhaps not, but the bar for photography books is so very high I wouldn’t attempt it unless a serious publisher and designer were involved. These photographers sent me amazing books of their work:
Peden + Munk
Agents don’t have an easy job when it comes to promos. With a roster of photographers to promote you are always in danger of crushing your recipients and your bank account sending out mailers. I really enjoyed the simple large cards Giant Artists sends out for each photographer and their year-end book was superb. Peter Bailey Productions went the opposite direction with the smallest and smartest little book of artists I have ever seen. DS Reps are known for sending out a top notch promo for all their artists and this years is no exception. Well designed and edited it was something worth hanging onto. Finally, Gill Turner had a book full of detachable cards that was beautiful and useful for identifying people you might want to work with.
It would be unfair to put Armstrong Pitts and their amazing studio in any other category but their own. The production and photography in their promos is out of this world. Add to that the frequency in which they send out these behemoth marketing pieces and there’s really no comparison to anything else I’ve received this year.
Armstrong Pitts Studios
Several years ago I decided to photograph a few of the promos photographers were sending me and post them on Instagram. I was looking for a way to get on Instagram and I hated to have all these nice promos collecting dust in my office. The response to my little experiment has been nothing short or overwhelming. My mailbox is filled every day with wonderful promos from around the world. And the notes you have been sending with them have really meant a lot to me, it’s so good to hear from photographers in the mail again and to hear your appreciation for the promo feed, the blog and the websites.
I received so many outstanding promos this year I decided to go back and pick out my favorites and make a special post for each category that they fit in. Well, it got a little out of hand and I have hundreds and hundreds of promos to show you, but I think this could be the start of another great feature here at APE and maybe I can get a better handle on it for 2016.
Over the next 4 days I will be making 5 posts a day for my different categories with my “Promos Of The Year for 2015”, so check back often or come be overwhelmed with all the promos when you have a little time to spend looking through it all. 2015 has been a great year for promos.
Who printed it?
I had the postcards printed at smartpress.com – they allowed me to do different versions in the same order which I think helped save on cost in the long run.
Who designed it?
My background is in design, so I designed it myself.
Who edited the images?
Mostly just me – I narrowed the edit down from a much larger selection of images from the past year and a half, and then got some input from friends and colleagues.
How many did you make?
I think it was about 100 sets.
How many times a year do you send out promos?
This was my first, but this year I’d like to get in the regular habit of mailing work out. There’s something so nice about getting a nice postcard or printed piece in the mail.
Tell us how this promo evolved.
As a designer and photographer, spending a lot of time in front of the computer as part of my job is extremely difficult. I really need to get outside, move, and be active on a regular basis. At some point last year I was having a particularly hard time with it, and often found myself wishing I was anywhere but at my desk. At the time I was working at an agency, going through some fairly major health issues, and was slowly losing my mind. So, I began to make a list of places I’d rather be.
The original list went something like this: early mornings, running, dirt roads, sunrises, mountains, streams, road trips, unknown trails, swimming holes, lakes, birds, hiking, cool water, flowers, the desert, climbing, hot springs, two wheels, sunsets, and so on…
The idea slowly morphed and changed, and after talking to a friend I realized it’s not the places I’d rather be that I was dreaming of, but the Places I Am. It’s the places that have inspired me, shaped me, and in some way become a part of me that I was day dreaming about.
Instead of just posting another photo from a past adventure to Instagram, I decided it was time to make something that might stick around a little longer. So I made a website and some postcards. It’s fairly simple, but I think the entire process was somewhat cathartic.
In the end, Places I Am ended up being a small series of photos taken in 2014 throughout Oregon and Washington. The accompanying website can be seen at www.placesiam.com.
I’ve had quite the morning so far. The alarm went off too early, as my wife left for work too soon.
It was nearly 10 below zero outside, so my bare feet froze as I lugged my daughter to the car, well before the sun was up. Crunch crunch crunch went the snow beneath my slippers.
What kind of idiot doesn’t put on winter boots before going outside in that?
Back indoors, and it was time for drama with my 8-year-old. He’s been giving us the business lately, as he’s smack-dab in the middle of a spoiled-brat-phase.
I saw it coming.
Since his birthday in October, it’s been an unending string of presents. Birthday. Halloween. First Hanukkah. Second Hanukkah. Third Hanukkah. First Christmas. Second Christmas.
You get the point.
Both sets of Grandparents treat him like the Second Coming, and all his best friends are feral, so it’s no wonder he went off-the-rails. Now, we’re tightening the reins, and he’ll be back to himself in no time.
But in the midst of our spat this morning, I made sure to mention that even though he’s getting in trouble a lot lately, his transgressions are relatively minor. He’s still an amazing kid: kind, loving, thoughtful, and obedient.
Just not as much as we’d like.
I told him that genuinely bad kids do genuinely bad things. The kind of things he couldn’t imagine. (Thank God.) Because if he really knew what the world was like out there, beyond his happy bubble, he wouldn’t be able to sleep at night.
But sleep he does, in his nice warm bed, with the heat turned up against the sub-zero cold.
We had that talk this morning, not two hours ago, and then I settled into my work-day and unpacked a book that had just arrived. Sometimes they sit in a pile for months, the few things people send me.
But this one was from Tony Fouhse, the photographer behind Stray light Press in Canada, and I knew it had to be interesting. I met Tony at the NY Times Portfolio review a few years ago. He was standing in a crowd of Canadians, and they happily chatted about the kinds of wild meat they’d eaten in the bush.
One guy said he liked Lynx. Said it tasted like chicken. They all agreed. These guys, I said to myself, are tougher than I am. I am soft, and weak, and perhaps that’s not the worst thing in the world, when the alternative is eating bobcat.
The book Tony sent is called “Sad City,” by Scot Sothern. I don’t know the artist, but I think I’m friends with him on Facebook. The name made me think of Vice Magazine, but I’m not sure that’s correct.
(Branding these days. Who doesn’t get caught up in that web.)
Anyway, the book grabbed me by the shorties from the word go. Holy Crap, is this a powerful object. Many people will hate such a thing. I get it.
But me, even though I live a somewhat pampered existence, I’m always on the lookout for people who are keeping it real.
The photos start in some nameless city. Street people. Down on their luck. Homeless. The kind of images people consider exploitative. The kind of pictures that better people use to raise money for the downtrodden.
This is no such book.
The stories start straight away, with titles above. They’re written in the first person, and while I know that people can make up all sorts of things, I trust that the artist/author is speaking from the heart.
He was a bad seed, growing up. A hoodlum. The kind of kid my young son cannot imagine, thankfully. He stole, and fought, and lived on the streets. He burned houses down, and watched girls get gang-raped in a drunken stupor. (Or does calling it a “train” imply consent?)
He reveled in the naïveté of his neighbors, who were foolish enough to leave their doors unlocked.
Some of the pictures correspond to the stories. He writes of looking right into the eyes of a beautiful hooker while she gives a john a hand-job. That comes after the photo.
Other times, the story comes first. Is that nattily-dressed, old school hustler walking down the street, in his Shaft-esque black leather jacket Hack Jackson, mentioned on the previous page?
We’re certainly meant to think so.
At first, this could be any major American city. But one story mentions the beach. Another speaks of Silver Lake. Then I know we’re in LA. The very next page shows us stars on the sidewalk: Hollywood.
I’ve been doing this long enough to know that these things are not accidental. These narrative hints. They’re done with care, slowly unspooling what we’re meant to know. (Editor’s note: when I photographed the book, I noticed the word California in the background on the book’s inside cover. So he did hint from the beginning. My bad.)
I read every story, and you regulars know I’m always happy to skip ahead when I’m bored. The photo of the handless Vet, juxtaposed against mannequin hands in a head-shop window made me stop cold.
This is a terrific combination of imagery and text. It speaks of the hard streets, from the perspective of one who knows. Sure, this time, he was cruising in the passenger seat.
But I would not want to mess with Scot Sothern. (Nor his friends.) And the fact that he’s willing to lock elements of his life onto the page for our prurient interest?
I appreciate it.
Like I said, the dude keeps it real.
Bottom Line: Edgy, dark look at life on the streets of LA
As a former Art Producer, I have always been drawn to personal projects because they are the sole vision of the photographer and not an extension of an art director, photo editor, or graphic designer. This new column, “The Art of the Personal Project” will feature the personal projects of photographers using the Yodelist marketing database. You can read their blog at http://yodelist.wordpress.com. Projects are discovered online and submissions are not accepted.
Today’s featured photographer is: Michael Spain-Smith
How long have you been shooting?
17 years – 1998 marked the opening of my first studio in Philadelphia.
Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
Photography schooled – yet primarily, and especially, self-taught.
With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
Principally? My insatiable sweet tooth! Specifically? This love of fresh, local honey that I have acquired from my travels around the world. For this project, I really just wanted to learn. Honey-harvesting, much like a vineyard produces wine, is a year long commitment. Nurturing the bee’s environment by planting selected floral varieties close to the hive and annually introducing a new queen is only some of many variables that factor into the equation for a successful season’s harvest – a dedicated and laborious process that stands only to be appreciated. And in my mind – photographed. My rep, Kim Knight, and I are big proponents of sustainable foods and farming. When I shared with her this opportunity to shoot a honey harvest, we knew it had the potential to bring awareness to a larger platform – the serious impacts on Honey Bee health that threaten an estimated one-third of all food and beverages that are made possible by pollination.
How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
One day of shooting. However, roughly one year of patience and planning for that late fall “day of harvest”.
How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
It could be an immediate shoot planned on the fly or years in the making. In fact, some of my best work was never planned at all – merely just the result of me deciding to pack my camera! I think the important thing to highlight here is that I’m always shooting and always exploring light. It’s what keeps my skills fresh, my eye challenged and my work relevant.
Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
I approach all assignments or portfolio shoots the same. Before reaching for my camera, I take some time to get inspired; to find something I can connect with – sometimes it’s the lighting, sometimes it’s a mood – but I find a connection. Reflecting on some of my best work, this critical component of my creative process has been ever-present. For me, shooting is a lifestyle – a passion. Yet, as a business, the goal of my personal work is to reflect my ability to fully understand the essence of a brand by illustrating its elements, details and emotion in a way that guarantees a captive audience.
Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
Absolutely! I post regularly and share many visuals that may have been a moment from a national campaign or part of a series of a personal work. I feel it essential to your brand as an artist to take the time to post work that reflects your individual personality, vision, color palate and style.
One of the elements that is, now, a large part of requests for advertising work is: creating a gallery of custom visuals for the brands social media content. What better way to show your style and understanding a brand’s pulse than with a personal series of something you have captured naturally?
If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
It has! Shooting celebrity pastry chef, Johnny Iuzzini’s, recent cookbook project Sugar Rush images have gone viral from a single posting many times. It’s really fascinating to see the trajectory of social media making a global footprint in seconds to audiences across the globe. Social media is powerful tool that should be respected yet utilized.
Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
All the time. Virtually all of my personal work is used for marketing to either reach new, potential clients or touch base on past relationships. I shoot a personal project at least once a month and, if traveling, always plan for a day of creative time to shoot local elements or people in an environment not always accessible to me.
MSS is a seasoned photographer, worldwide traveler and motorcycle racer who loves speed and adrenaline but often enjoys a long road trip as a favorite place to concept and unwind.
Following his passion as an advertising and lifestyle photographer, he is known to capture authentic moments often told with a luxury lifestyle feel in a story-telling and stylized way.
Classic and pure, consistent and deliberate whether in-studio or on remote locations, Michael is a veteran collaborator and patient problem solver that make him a memorable photographer to work with.
To MSS, it’s all about capturing and enjoying the smooth ride.
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 has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information believing that marketing should be driven by a brand and not specialty. Follow her on twitter at SuzanneSease.