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 Chris Simpson. I love him not only as an artist, but as a person. He has an unique style and is great to work with.
How many years have you been in business?
I have been shooting professionally for about 3 years now.
Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I graduated from Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), with a BFA in photography. My four years there really helped to hone my eye and expand my creative sensibilities. I’ve also learned a tremendous amount in regard to the business end of photography as well as photographic techniques from working in the field. The knowledge I’ve gathered from those experiences coupled with my formal education is how I learned to make a career out of photography.
Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
Throughout my career in photography there have been many people who have inspired me, teachers, peers, photographers I have assisted and photographers who’s work I admire, but nobody has inspired me as much as my Father, Jerry Simpson. My Father is an incredible director and cinematographer who started out as a print photographer. I have been lucky enough to work side by side with him on various shoots, where I do the stills and he shoots motion for clients. While working with him I have also learned a lot about motion, assisting him with shoots and even collaborating with him on projects. He has pushed me to achieve goals that sometimes seem impossible and has taught me a ton about the business.
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 find inspiration in many different outlets: new restaurants I eat at, books I’m reading, meeting new people and places I’ve visited. Living in New York City is hugely inspirational too, there are always new shows to go to, new foods to eat. I’m constantly inspired by my surroundings and new experiences. All of this helps me to push the envelope, keep my eye sharp and come up with new ideas. I find that sometimes when my mind is clear and I’m not thinking about photography ideas pop into my head that then develop into images later on. It’s funny, a lot of times I won’t know that something has inspired me until a week, month or year later when that moment will reappear and push me to shoot something new. It’s also important for me to keep testing, through shooting personal work I’m able to work out ideas and develop different concepts.
I have also been able to travel extensively for work and for pleasure over the years. It’s always inspiring to be able to get on a plane and wind up in a completely different environment. Experiencing different cultures and different ways of life is very influential for me.
Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
I truly enjoy the collaborative process of working with a team of creative folks and clients. Usually clients are excited to work with me because they love my work and trust me. I like working with other people and I’m comfortable articulating my vision to people that may not see what I’m seeing. Developing this trust is important and ultimately leads to the best end result.
What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
I have found that most of my success comes from face to face meetings with people. I try and schedule meetings with buyers and creative people on a monthly basis. Most of this is up to me as I don’t have a rep, but I enjoy the process and know it’s all part of the career. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some great Art Buyers and Creative folks that are always happy to help me get meetings and give me feedback on what I’m doing. It’s always flattering to me that people who meet me for the first time are so willing to help me.
Personalized emails are also hugely beneficial, it doesn’t take much to reach out to someone and ask them about what they are doing. Being interested in other people in the business and wanting to know their perspective always helps in developing long lasting relationships.
What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
Don’t do it. I can’t say enough about making work for yourself and pushing what you enjoy, the paid work will follow. It’s a bad cycle to produce work that you think people want to see, and as you do that you drift further away from what you want to be doing. Creatives, buyers and photo editors are so much more likely to higher you because they find your work to be amazing as opposed to seeing something that fits a campaign or story. Having edgy and interesting work is how you get your first projects and from there it keeps building.
I try to challenge myself constantly and put myself into situations that I’m not 100 percent comfortable with. Whether that’s in the studio or on location, it can be as simple as trying to light something that I have never had to light before or experimenting with a new camera or lens. It’s important to do this work on your own so that when a job comes along that’s challenging you are prepared for it.
Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
Always, I feel strange if I don’t. I’m constantly thinking up new projects that I want to work on. It’s easy for me to go to the farmers market and develop new shots in my mind, and then before I know it I’m in the studio creating new work. I find that I’m constantly inspired to develop my work, and at the moment I’m editing a large body of travel photography. If I’m feeling stuck I go for a bike ride or head up to the woods and go camping for a night.
How often are you shooting new work?
As often as I can, if I’m not busy I try and shoot for myself at least a few times a month. For me it’s a downward spiral if I’m not creating, I feel much better when I’m making work.
Since Chris was young he has always had a strong passion for photography, after seeing his first black and white image appear in the darkroom he was hooked. He decided to continue his passion when he enrolled in Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). He received his BFA from MICA and quickly moved to Brooklyn, New York.
Since moving to New York his photography has taken him to countries such as St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Portugal, and Italy. He has worked for such clients as AVON, Johnson & Johnson, and 7-UP. He enjoys the collaborative process of photography and being able to help clients reach their visions. He loves that through photography he has been given opportunities to meet some of the most amazing people through out the world.
If Chris is not photographing or editing images, he enjoys cycling, camping and cooking meals with good friends.
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.
Catch Suzanne presenting with Kat Dalager for Market Right 2014 in NYC on Wednesday, October 29th http://yodelist.wordpress.com/2014/10/03/were-proud-to-announce-market-right-2014