Oriana Koren

Who printed it?
The incredible Anthony Wright. My designer, George McCalman, has been working with Anthony on photographer promos for some time now and ensured Anthony would be the guy to get my colors just right. He absolutely did!

Who designed it?
George McCalman of McCalman Co! We actually met at brunch in San Francisco and immediately fell in love with each other’s work. George mentioned he was open to us collaborating in some way so around February I recognized that my marketing efforts needed to go up a notch and that’s when I reached out to George for ideas on how to make that happen. He immediately told me I should send out a booklet, particularly because, for the last three years I’ve primarily been seen as a food photographer, but I’m not. I have a documentary photography background and I shoot a lot of different subjects, it just happens that food is the subject I feel best allows me to show my strength as an editorial photographer who has the training of a documentary photographer. George really responded to this and asked me to trust him enough to allow him to choose the edit of images. I sent him a folder of 150 shots and dug deep into my archive for those selections. He sent me two edits and I think we swapped out 1-2 images out of what ended up in the 28-page book. He really understood that my work is a little offbeat and a little queer like me and ran with that: making a promotional piece that introduces me as both an artist and a human being. George is an art director with over a decade of experience in the editorial world and an illustrator, so he really understands what it takes to make an impactful promo piece that really allows an artist to shine in their own singular light which made me really excited because this is the artist I want to introduce to potential clients.

Tell me about the images?
I sent George a folder of 150 shots and dug deep into my archive, so there’s a mix of portrait, food still life, travel, and documentary work. There’s a photograph I took at the 10th anniversary of AfroPunk back in 2014 living alongside a Dutch-masters inspired still life for a cannabis magazine I photographed this past spring. There’s food journalism in the city of Charleston, a still life for a ceramicist who makes playful pieces for the kitchen, and a portrait of Boots Riley shot for WIRED. I wanted to demonstrate my nimbleness as a photographer both in subject and technique. The cover image I shot five years ago for Bevel (a black-owned wellness and beauty company based in SF) in Charlotte, NC so I also wanted to show through the images that there are certain stories and places I’ve been interested in exploring via my lens for a long, long time.

How many did you make?
100. I’ve got 25 remaining for winter meetings and portfolio reviews in SF and NYC. I’m looking forward to hand delivering some of them!

How many times a year do you send out promos?
Just about once a year for printed promos. I sent digital promos throughout the year usually in the form of a personalized introduction email with an attachment of work appropriate for the client. I also send out newsletter about 3-4 per year and those have been great for keeping clients aware of my travels, new published work and any personal work I might be doing. Next year I’ve got two printed promos already planned, so I’m excited about sending out more consistently because the response to this one has been really incredible.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
Absolutely. When I first started out, I sent 25 promos out. It was a series of 5 postcards and it was incredibly effective. You were kind enough to feature it on your Instagram and I ended up getting gigs with more than half of the clients I sent it out to that year. This year, I made my promo because I knew I was ready to look for new representation and I had my eye on a few rosters. I knew I needed a really strong print piece if I were going to, at the least, get some instagram follows. My goal was to just get my work in front of some agents so that they would be curious enough to keep an eye on me. My top choice roster, DSREPS, actually offered me a meeting based off of the booklet I sent to Deb and now we’re building a relationship. That doesn’t happen everyday, but I think the booklet was so strong and attention getting because I took the investment really seriously and got the absolute best team for my needs to produce it. I think clients and agents can really tell when you go the extra mile with a promotional piece and it doesn’t have to be gimmick or gift-y. I really believe good work sells itself. I sent this book out to some select travel and hospitality clients as I’ve been enjoying shooting social media ad work for food clients like Tillamook and then to a ton of book publishers as I’m shooting some cookbooks for Ten Speed Press (they got my 5 postcard promo and it got me a meeting with them) next year and really want to get publishers on my radar as someone for them to consider who can shoot still life in studio and on location for food-based travel projects. I’m hoping this promo will conjure up a food-travel based cookbook in the Caribbean next year, specifically in Martinique, Haiti, and/or and St. Lucia. Promos take a while before you see return but when I get an email for that perfect assignment or ad job out of what seems like the clear blue sky, that’s when I’ll know it’s doing the job I hoped it would.

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