Posts by: A Photo Editor
I was checking out Thomas Broening’s blog and read something that made me laugh. Photographers pretending to be very busy shooting all the time when talking to each other. Some sort of primal chest thumping.
Well, I’ll just flat out admit that sometimes when calling a photographer or rep and I find out their schedule is wiiiiide open from here to eternity I get a bit crestfallen thinking “why isn’t this guy getting any work, what does everyone else know that I don’t?” Lame, I know but it crosses the mind.
A reader asks: 1. what’s the big deal risking a shoot on someone new when you’re only paying them $350-$500? 2. What’s up with those crap rates?
1. If you include all the expenses (assistant, rental, film and process or digital fees, travel, cell phone, messenger, insurance, tips, cab fare, and misc) a one day shoot is easily over $3500. Add to that the availability of the subject and the looming deadline plus the fact that for every failed shoot the editor and creative director give you enormous stink-eye… well it turns into a little more than just $500 out of the budget.
2. The rates. I actually inherited them and while I will agree they’ve been stagnant for many, many years the expenses have gone up considerably and… this is a big and, the theory has always been that you get your clips in editorial and make your money in commercial. Uh, maybe that’s a very bad assumption on the part of photography editors.
Anyway, there should be a better pricing structure for editorial photography. The way writing works and commercial photography works is the better you are the more you get paid. I should be able to pay established photographers more and unproven photographers less.
So, I decided to activate a twitter account (on sidebar) as an experiment. As annoying as it probably is to know what someone is up to every moment of the day it might be useful as a business tool so people know when you’re at the office in a meeting or have gone home for the day.
I guess it doesn’t do anyone much good if I remain anonymous but I wanted to see how hard it was to keep up.
Thought I’d post my links to photography agents that I keep handy. It’s over there on the sidebar.
I’ve collected a pretty good list over the years, of agents I like and refer to it all the time. It’s by no means complete, I’m sure there’s a few dead links in there and I haven’t alphabetized the bottom entries but, It’s one of the first places I go to look for photographers.
Yes, it’s only been two short weeks (Alec just hit a year) and I’m ready to declare blogging to be an important tool for photo editors.
It’s not working the way it should because I can’t tell you who I am or what magazine I work for but I’m very confident this is a great way for us to communicate. Truth is I don’t care if you know who I am it’s just that I don’t want to put it in the public record in case one of the business types I work for decides to google around and see what’s out there. Unfortunately, all publishing companies forbid this kind of activity… unless it’s on their crappy website following their lame rules and so I just decided to go for it.
The reason I think it’s so great for photo editors is that we spend a great deal of our time looking for photographers and you spend a great deal of time trying to reach us and now we can talk to each other. We could always talk to each other of course, but now everyone can see the questions and answers. I’m confident there will be many more photo editors (Can anyone point me to others?) embracing this in the future. There’s probably a few tweaks to the format that would make it a little more useful (portfolio posting area) but I can figure that out as we go.
Of all the ways to get your foot in the door at a magazine this is certainly a very good one (of course that depends on what it’s like to be a first assistant but I wouldn’t know about that). I know photographers don’t like to be known as “former first assistants to so and so photographer” (especially when their styles look similar, as they inevitably do) but it certainly has an impact on me when I hear about it.
When I first started working with Martin Schoeller he was Annie’s former first and boy did he have some great stories to tell. Interestingly, Martin’s former first has given up photography to become a helicopter pilot… but I don’t think it has anything to do with his experience as an assistant. Maybe more to do with his experience trying to become a professional photographer.
I’ve recently started working with Dan Winters current first (guess there’s not a lot of work down there in Austin so he’s got two jobs) and I’ve had nothing but great results.
Gwen Stefani Photo Edits Jill Greenberg
A the end of the video you get to see Gwen play photo editor.
You may have figured out that the editorial photography world is a bit incestuous– especially if you’re trying to break in– and there’s a pretty good reason for it called, “let someone else try out the new guy.” I’m always more than happy to poach a photographer from another leading (not rival) publication because they’ve obviously given this person an assignment and they delivered the goods.
Don’t get me wrong, one of the joys in photo editing is developing new talent, but sometimes it’s nice to just grab someone developed by another magazine.
It’s also good corroboration when a new photographer’s work catches your eye and you’ve decided to give them a shot (when the right opportunity presents itself) and they get hired by another photo editor you respect.
An up and coming young editorial photographer dropped by the office today to give me film from a small shoot he did. He got his start in action sports so when he reached into his pack to show me the new camera he’s been shooting with wasn’t I surprised to see him pull out a brand spankin new 4×5.
Sure, digital has taken over the photography world but I still love seeing film.
I wonder if people enjoy reading all those ads?
This can’t be very fun for the readers or contributors but there’s two reasons this happens.
1. There’s usually a couple issues every year that lose money because of the lack of advertising and so the big fashion issues need to make up for this lost revenue.
2. The bigger the issue the more expensive it is to print and ship and the need for more advertising. Surfer magazine has an oversized issue every year that loses money despite the fact that it’s plugged with advertising because the expense to print and ship is so high.
Antonin is one of my favorite photographers of all time. I love giving him an assignment, especially something that’s not conflict related, because you’re guaranteed two things. 1. Amazing photography. 2. A fight with the editor. There’s really no two ways about it, Antonin’s photos are not conventional and most of us work at magazines that need and want and mostly publish conventional photography so there’s gonna be a fight with the editor(s) to get the good one’s published. At least, when you’re making the assignment, the fight is a long way off and all you think about is the glorious frames you will receive and the many endless possibilities for amazing 20 page layouts.
2 promo cards in the mail today. Can’t remember the last time I only got 2. Maybe the promo card side of business is slowing down because of the web. Anyway this one looked cool and the photographer, Ayuson has some nice material on her/his (can’t tell with only one name to go off of) website. I really like describing light.
The other card went in the garbage.
Photographer Don Flood came in to show me his portfolio which was a bit of a surprise because we’re a men’s magazine and Don mostly shoots women. I usually try and avoid these live portfolio showings unless it’s someone I know I’m interested in because they can be a bit awkward when you’re not sure if you can ever give the guy any work or even worse when the work sucks. Anyway, Don’s portfolio viewing was easily one of the best I’ve ever had because he’s super nice, talented and quickly ended the meeting and left. The ending can be the worst part because that’s where there’s sometimes a little extra selling on the photographer’s part but usually all I’m thinking about is all the shit I’ve got to do at the moment and furthest from my mind is future assignments. Don quickly wrapped it up and got the hell out because he probably knows like I do that it’s all about the photography and if that doesn’t pass the test everything else doesn’t matter. I hope I can find an assignment for him.
Talking with one of the editors today we both got a laugh out of the fact that we sit around in an office in Manhattan trying to come up with brilliant ideas all the time when really we should be relying on the talented writers and photographer to come up with the ideas. If our magazine was called, Manhattan office workers, which it’s not, we’d be coming up will brilliant shit all day.
I run into this all the time, where the expectations of the photography are, that it will exactly match the idea that we came up with. I rarely tell the photograph how to shoot, unless it’s someone hired specifically to give them art direction. Sitting in and office in the middle of Manhattan in a meeting is not where your best creative work comes from.
Craig Cutler came to the office today at the insistence of the editor, because Craig is shooting a very expensive project for us and well, the editor wanted to make sure that we were getting exactly what we wanted out of it. That’s always a bit of an awkward situation for me because I really don’t know what I’m trying to get out of it. I’m really just trying to match a brilliant photographer with a project that will play to their strengths. I have no frickin clue what it’s going to look like.
The meeting went well because as you can see Craig is a brilliant photographer and the project plays into his strengths (still life) but is something he’s not really photographed before (animals) and that always leads to the best work because it’s an opportunity for them to sink their teeth into something new and exciting and challenging. Should be amazing. Maybe even win an award and all I had to do is make one phone call. Perfect.
The beginning saw existence of a chosen dream
But then came pain …
Hold on to the love