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 Buyer: I nominate Pip. We collaborated with him to shoot for one of our clients. He was a pleasure to work with and his photography is outstanding. He’s only 25 and he’s already short listed for the AOP awards and he made it into the Creative Review annual this year. Added to all this, he’s also self-taught.
How many years have you been in business?
I’ve been working professionally for 6 years now.
Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I’m self- taught, I didn’t go to college or university. I already had a solid technical understanding before I left school, and I’d never been particularly interested with conceptual analysis or the history of photography, so it didn’t make sense for me to go. I just wanted to get out into the world and start shooting without the limitations of working to a course project brief. Not having any qualifications has never inhibited me though – it’s important to remember that even with a first class degree from a top university, in the eyes of the client, you’re just as inexperienced as the day you enrolled. Portfolio is everything.
Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
I was always a big fan of people like Ansel Adams, Anton Corbijn and Kevin Cummings when I was growing up. Their cinematic, black & white vision was something that really spoke to me. They also all had a graceful way of combining landscape scenes with portraiture – something else I’ve always loved. I think the romance of their work is what drove me to pick up a camera in the first place and the business side of things developed naturally as I continued to create work I was proud of.
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?
Following on from my last point, the most important thing is to be shooting things that excite you. As primarily a portrait photographer, my work is about storytelling, so humans are my first love and my main inspiration. I love meeting interesting people, learning about their lives and the way they perceive the world – everyone has a different story.
Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
I’ve been generally pretty lucky with clients – I can’t think of many times I’ve been held back or asked shoot in a way I wasn’t comfortable with. When shooting commercially there always has to be compromises from each party, but I’ve found the best clients are good communicators – ones who lay down a thorough brief then take a step back and let the photographer approach it in their own way. The best results usually come out of a mutual trust between photographer, creative and client.
What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
I love doing editorial work – although budgets are small and turnaround times are nearly always tight, there’s more of a creative freedom to experience, compared to commercial work. It’s still one of the best ways to get noticed, having your work in print. Social media is also a big part of the game these days – twitter, instagram and tumblr are all great platforms for sharing your work and telling the world about what you’re up to. A massive percentage of the creative buying community now regularly use these networks to source new talent, get inspiration and keep up with the latest trends – embrace technology, get involved and get noticed.
What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
It’s never good to try and second-guess what people want to see, because half the time they don’t even know what they want to see, until they see it. From experience, you can win clients and jobs from the most unlikely places and you can fail to get something you feel like you were born for. The best thing you can do is shoot what you love in a style you love, and your work will have integrity. Passion resonates and is highly infectious.
Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
Whenever I’m not shooting editorial or commercial work, I always try and get stuck in to personal projects. Because most of my work is portrait based, I try and mix things up when shooting for myself. Lately I’ve been doing a bit of landscape work – it’s a totally different experience to shooting people, but its nice to have the time and space to really consider the shots I’m taking.
How often are you shooting new work?
I prefer to shoot sets of images in the form of a personal project, rather than odd shots here and there. I usually do something big every couple of months if I can fit it in, but working regularly with clients tends to take up most of my time.
Pip is a self-taught photographer from Yorkshire, Northern England. Avoiding conventional paths into the industry, he exchanged University and assisting for a start in professional work at the exceptionally young age of 19, when he was signed by London agency Shoot Group. Since then, Pip has worked internationally with a dizzying range of people, from the freshest bands and emerging acting talent to international pop stars and Hollywood greats. Recent subjects have included Ellie Goulding, London Grammar, Lawson, Professor Green, Conor Maynard, Jeremy Irvine, Harry Treadaway, James Nesbitt, Russell Brand, The Inbetweeners, Richard E Grant, Helen McCrory and Sir Ian McKellen. Last year saw him become the youngest ever cover photographer for ‘Photo Pro’, the largest professional photography magazine in the UK, and be featured in the prestigious Creative Review Photography Annual. With an extensive range of editorial clients and advertising commissions from Royal Opera House, Barclaycard, Waitrose, Channel 4, NASA, BBC Worldwide and Topman under his belt, at just 25 years old, Pip is currently one of London’s more exciting young portrait photographers.
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.