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 Buyer: I nominate Lou Mora. He is one of our most trusted and creative photographers. He brought a beautiful light and style to all of work he did for us even when some of the subjects and places were bland. He goes beyond the call to get to get the perfect shot even scaling telephone poles, rooftops and crawling under things. His work has evolved beautifully.
How many years have you been in business?
I assisted for 4.5 years and launched my company around 7 years ago.
Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I went to photography school, but I’d say at this point I’m just as much self-taught. I’ve learned so much since I graduated that it feels like my formal education covered the basics but that I had so much more to learn.
Who was your greatest influence that inspired you to get into this business?
I fell in love with photography before I fully understood that it could be a livelihood, so I’d have to say it was the many photographers I assisted who showed me the ropes and exactly how I could turn what I loved into a business (you know who you are, thank you!)
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 all the usual places- but I’m most inspired by people; mannerisms, style, idiosyncrasies, where they live, how they live- it all fascinates me. As far as pushing myself and staying true to myself, that comes from a determination to keep growing, bettering my work and refining my vision. I trust that if I’m doing that work, the rest will fall into place.
Do you find that some creatives love your work but the client holds you back?
My number one goal on set is to give the client more than what they are asking for. That can mean different things at different times but it’s all a collaboration. If the client has a comp and they know that that’s what they want, I’ll shoot it but time permitting I’ll also give them different variations. I’ve found that most if not all clients are open to seeing what’s possible when the approach is right!
What are you doing to get your vision out to the buying audience?
HUSTLING! I’m always working on personal projects, marketing is a constant (mailers, social media, emails, etc.). Building relationships is critical, so I try to stay in touch in a genuine way and I’m always trying to book meetings- not only do I think it’s incredibly helpful for buyers to be able to get a feel for my personality but I’ve gotten to a point where I think they’re fun! It’s great meeting people who love the same things I do and it’s fun to meet people whose careers I’ve followed in the ad world.
What is your advice for those who are showing what they think the buyers want to see?
I say, no one sees the world quite the same way you do, so take advantage of that and figure out how to make your unique perspective the strongest it can be. All other work will fall just short, and ultimately won’t be as satisfying.
Are you shooting for yourself and creating new work to keep your artistic talent true to you?
Always! At the end of the day I’m a photographer because I’m happiest when I’m shooting. I love being on set, but in the time I’m not, I keep myself going by tackling the personal projects that bring me so much inspiration. Right now I’m working on several: Portraits of Artists, Small Businesses, and Car People.
How often are you shooting new work?
If I’m not shooting for clients I’m trying to shoot something for myself once a week- even if it means just heading out with my camera and driving around looking for ANYTHING that strikes a chord. I’ve found that with two of my great loves- surfing and photography, I am happiest when they’re a part of my weekly life, but it’s easy to get busy and neglect them. This year I’ve committed to scheduling shoots at least once a week when I’m not on set and on the occasion when they fall through I’m out the door with my camera looking for an opportunity.
Lou Mora is a surfer, husband, traveler, and chocolate chip cookie connoisseur. Professionally he’s a lifestyle and portrait photographer who’s favorite place to be is on set surrounded by the talented and spirited crew he’s been working with for years.
Lou works on both large and small-scale projects, tackling both with the same objective: to produce relatable images that tell stories, that are approachable, intimate and unaffected. His secondary objective is simple, have a great time with like-minded creatives doing what they love to do.
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.