How cool would it be to get a group of LA Art Producers in a room and pepper them with questions about the business? And, not one of these panels where everyone is on their best behavior, but a cozy room filled with like minded professionals, where you can seriously discuss the state of the industry when it comes to finding and hiring photographers. Well, that’s exactly what Community Table, a series of blog posts based on a lunch Matt Nycz, Kate Chase of Brite Productions; Heather Elder, Lauranne Lospalluto of Heather Elder Represents; and and Alison McCreery of POP Blog put together.

So far there’ve been two installments: Part I: The Appetizer and Part II: The Main Course

Here are a few highlights:

There is a rise in the “pay to play” events where photographers pay a fee or pay into a program that allows them direct access to creatives and or art producers.  The organizers sometimes offer compensation to the reviewers in an effort to elevate the seriousness of the event and show a respect for the reviewer’s time.  What is it about these types of events that are most successful and what do you feel could be improved upon?  Do you see this as a positive trend and if not, why?

Here is how Jigisha got everyone thinking:

“In the past few years I’ve thought about this a lot because I’ve needed to strategize as my role as an art producer in an ad agency and as a department head. With regards to the pay-to-play events, I’ve thought about what is a conflict of interest and what is acceptable.

At first, I would get an offer to come look at and critique portfolios that came with a stipend. I knew the people putting the shows together were also charging the photographers to have their books reviewed, but I would do them. However, in the last couple of years, the books that came to me were photographers who didn’t need my critique, who were already quite successful and could call me and get a showing

Acknowledging that the pay-to-play events present a valuable opportunity to emerging photographers, Jigisha continued, “Then alternatively, there have been other reviews I’ve done for beginner and emerging books where I could be constructive and helpful. In this case, my time was worth it for them, if the photographer uses it as a critique to make their book better.”

Based on an evaluation of how much each side gets out of it, Jigisha now only participates when she feels it is not a conflict of interest. “I made the decision not to participate in events where the caliber of photographer is good enough to come in to my agency and be seen. But I will participate in the ones where I can use my experience to help them and they can maybe do a little more work and see me at my agency the next time and not have to pay.”


But back to eBlasts. “I like them and I don’t like them,” offered Melanie. “A lot of time I have to delete them every morning. But the email trend has helped cut down on the mailed promos. It now takes a week to get what I used to get in a day. I feel better about the impact on the earth.

“I’m the total opposite,” said Kristine, “I love promos and am guilty of not opening every email blast. Promos have always been a favorite part of my job. I just love them.”

And in conclusion, one final bit of advice from Cara.One thing the creatives ask us over and over is how they can make the eblasts stop. The eblasts should be targeted directly to the art producers.”

Make sure you check out both posts and look for future updates.

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  1. What Jigisha says about the pay-to-play events makes sense. And the fact that she’d rather use her time to help out emerging photographers is quite nice. The one question I have though: is there any benefit for already-successful photographers to attend such events?
    Street Lovely

  2. Benefit. Yes. Never pass up a chance for a meeting. Put a name to the face of the person you have been sending mailers to for 5 or 10 years. Does not matter what level you are (unless it is an emerging photographer only event). I, too, was concerned about how a photographer who attends such an event would be “perceived” by reviewers. But that vanished as I saw reviewers relief, delighted to have a chance to meet and look a books outside the context of a busy office with all the distractions. These things are a good idea…..

  3. Why buy the cow when the milk is free?
    I can’t understand why anyone would pay so much money to do what I’ve done for free for almost 5 years. I have never been turned down by a creative director, editor, or even professional photographer when I asked them for their honest opinion and constructive criticism on my portfolio. I usually call or email them and mention how I admire them and been a fan of their work and would greatly appreciate and take to heart any advice they might have. Most of them say they can spare 10 minutes and end up giving me a half hour or more. I’ve even gotten assisting and digital tech work from some of them. I especially like when they share personal stories about the industry and pitfalls to avoid. I learn something valuable from every single one of them no matter how much time they give.
    I don’t want to diminish anyone’s experience at one of these events but it sounds to me like it’s portfolio speed dating. I much prefer a one on one approach when neither of us is looking at the clock.

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