Miller Mobley built a successful business as an editorial and commercial photographer in his native Alabama, then gave it up to start all over again in New York City. In this video produced by PDN, he discusses how he landed jobs in both places, and the importance of showing new work to potential clients every time he approaches them. To learn more about how Mobley launched and then re-launched his career, see our story, “Miller Mobley’s Transition,” at PDNonline.com.
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By Eliza Lamb
As a photographer I find that portfolio reviews are the perfect combination of exhaustion and exhilaration, community and competition, motivation and humility. After I returned from a whirlwind four days in Portland, Oregon at Photolucida I was still coming off the high of it all. I found myself trying to integrate the connections I’d made and the feedback I’d gotten with the life I knew and the assumptions I held before I left. Sorting through piles of leave behinds, business cards, signed books and pages full of notes, I was struck by feelings of accomplishment and uneasiness, and by my downright good fortune for being able to be a part of such an amazing community.
The process of creating visual art can be very isolating and often involves years of self-reflection, pondering and personal expense, punctuated by both excitement and doubt. It can feel antisocial as we create our images and crawl back into our studios or sit in front of our computer screens for hours upon hours of editing, processing and contemplating. Having trained for years as an actress and receiving instant gratification, I find it can be near maddening putting your work out there to radio silence. But portfolio reviews are a way for photographers to join together to gain feedback, camaraderie and opportunities, to gather despite their home locations or educational training and present their work to the community as equals with common passions, goals and frustrations. (more…)
Earlier this year we wrote in our Exposures column about Henry Leutwyler’s project photographing the New York City Ballet. One of the photographs in his book and exhibition depicted the grit behind the grace of ballet, contrasting a ballerina’s bandaged and bloodied bare right foot with her left foot as an audience might normally see it, wrapped in a pointe shoe.
Leutwyler, an appreciator of both the artform of ballet and the sport of skateboarding, sees the parallels between the two, so he created a limited edition set of decks from the image. Check them out, here.
The Nielsen Photo Group, which owns PDN, has announced the appointment of Jason Groupp as the director of Wedding & Portrait Photographers International. We’d like to welcome Jason to the Nielsen Photo Group. For more information on the appointment, please see the press release below.
New York, NY (November 20, 2012) – Wedding & Portrait Photographers International (WPPI) announces today the appointment of Professional Photographer Jason Groupp as the new WPPI Director.
Groupp will be responsible for overseeing the growth of membership and education, setting up speakers for the annual WPPI Conference and Expo and maintaining speaker relations for the conference, WPPI U and WPPI on the road. Groupp will also act as liaison for WPPI to the photography community, supervise photo competitions and work with teams to help provide editorial content for Rangefinder Magazine, WPPI blog and the InFocus newsletter.
“I’m so excited to be joining The Nielsen Photo Group as WPPI Director. The annual WPPI Conference and publications such as Photo District News and Rangefinder Magazine have been such an important part of my career as a professional wedding photographer,” said Jason Groupp, WPPI Director. “After graduating college in 1989, I utilized the ‘assistants wanted’ section of Photo District News to help launch my career. It goes without saying that 25 years later, I’m excited for the opportunity to help today’s new photographers find those ‘help wanted’ ads that helped me back then. I’ve loved and appreciated every minute of my WPPI experiences, and I couldn’t ask for a better place to now call home.”
Manhattan, NY-based Jason Groupp studied fashion photography at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City graduating in 1989. He’s been shooting weddings for 23 years. Sophisticated but instantly accessible, Jason Groupp’s wedding photography celebrates the individuality of every couple he works with. Having honed his style on the streets of Manhattan, Jason instinctively creates a sense of place and style in every client’s photograph. Whether it’s a free-spirited portrait of a newly engaged couple astride a motorcycle or a rare quiet moment shared by a bride and groom against the splashy backdrop of a Las Vegas cityscape, Jason captures the relationship between a couple and their surroundings.
For more information about Jason Groupp visit: http://www.jasongroupp.com/
All WPPI 2013 classes, events and the expo will take place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, NV, from March 7-14, 2013. WPPI is the biggest event in the world for wedding and portrait photographers. Last year, nearly 16,000 registered attendees and over 180 speakers from throughout the United States as well as from 46 foreign countries as far away as Latin America, Australia and Russia gathered in Las Vegas, NV for WPPI. Attending professional photographers and those looking to begin their career in photography were able to learn from the best and see the latest and greatest products from 330 exhibitors that participated in the expo.
The 2013 conference will feature specialized education programs like Platform Classes, Master Classes, Plus Classes and WPPI U. WPPI U is a university-style, two-day workshop providing the fundamentals of photography to help today’s up-and-coming photographers strengthen their shooting skills, learn to market their photography services and how to run a profitable business. Also, the 16×20 Print and Album Competitions provide an extra measure of excitement and recognition during the event, culminating with the WPPI Awards Night extravaganza.
Registration (Http://registration3.experientevent.com/ShowWPP131/?flowcode=ATT) for WPPI 2013 and is open now. The early bird registration rate for access to the WPPI 2013 Conference and Expo is $199 for WPPI members and $379 for non-members through December 14, 2012. On December 15, 2012 registration rates increase to regular prices online; $275 for WPPI members and $399 for non-members. These rates include one (1) free guest, all Platform classes, special events and a 3-day pass to the biggest photography expo for wedding and portrait photographers.
For more information about WPPI 2013 and all of its workshops and events, please visit: www.wppionline.com.
Wedding & Portrait Photographers International (WPPI), a division of Nielsen Photo Group, is an international membership organization that serves the educational and business needs of wedding and portrait photographers. WPPI is a professional organization that exists to help its 3,500 active member photographers by providing them with exclusive information, programs and professional services to assist with their photographic artistry and business needs. WPPI routinely supplies its members with new benefits and valuable industry information enabling them to succeed in today’s active photo market business. WPPI membership gives photographers the resources they need to succeed and the tools they require to build and develop a strong personal support network.
In 2012, WPPI completed its 32nd annual Conference and Expo, featuring 320 exhibitors in its convention space at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. The annual WPPI 2013 Conference and Expo is set to take place next year at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, NV, from March 7-14, 2013. For more information visit: www.wppionline.com.
Photographer Jordan Matter helps out as a PDN product tester from time to time so we were pleased as punch to see his new book of photographs, Dancers Among Us: A Celebration of Joy in the Everyday, debut on The New York Times‘ best seller list recently.
Matter’s images, which feature professional dancers performing in everyday situations across the United States, premiered on PDN’s Photo of the Day blog back in 2010 and then returned in March of this year. (See a few of his images below.)
Since then, the Dancers Among Us project has really taken off. Along with the book, the Internet has fallen in love with Matter’s joyful images. He was featured on Reddit in a Q&A with readers last week and several photography-related websites and blogs have run his images (often without his permission, it’s worth noting), turning the shots into the latest viral photo sensation.
Along with crediting PDN for helping him get his first early exposure of the project, Matter says the below marketing video created to promote Dancers Among Us has been successful at getting him and his work featured on the Today show and in The Washington Post.
It seems like nowadays every photographer is launching a crowd-funding campaign to raise money for a book or to shoot personal work. But how many of those photographers are actually meeting or surpassing their fundraising goals? At the PhotoPlus seminar “Crowd-Funding Your Photography Project,” five panelists shared their thoughts on how to raise money using two crowd-funding platforms, Kickstarter and Emphas.is.
Gerd Ludwig moderated the panel. He used Kickstarter in 2011 to raise funds for his long-term series on Chernobyl, because traditional media outlets weren’t interested in commissioning the work. Ludwig raised over $23,000, which he used to travel to Chernobyl, and publish a book and iPad app of the work.
The panelists were Karim Ben Khelifa, co-founder of Emphas.is; Aaron Huey, a photojournalist who used Emphas.is to raise over $26,000 for a billboard and information campaign surrounding his work on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation; Justin Jensen, a photographer who used Kickstarter to raise over $485,000 for his product CineSkates, which are wheels that snap onto the bottom of a Gorilla tripod; and Jon Pack, who used Kickstarter to raise over $65,000 for his photography project “The Olympic City” and the resulting book. Below, some campaign dos and don’ts they learned along the way.
1. Do make a video for your Kickstarter or Emphas.is page, which tells visitors about the project. Ludwig noted that a video provides an opportunity to address your audience personally as well as to give your credentials and background so people feel comfortable investing in your work. Huey added that the video is essentially the elevator pitch for your project, so it’s important to make it as professional as possible. Meanwhile, Ben Khelifa advised photographers to avoid the words “help” and “support” in their videos since Emphas.is sees the relationship as more of an exchange between the photographer and his or her audience.
2. Do create a reward structure that awards every donor regardless of the amount of money they give. Huey said some of his rewards had a dollar value that was worth more than the donation amount, which was a good incentive for people to give. Ludwig noted that he had a reward for every size pocketbook.
3. Don’t only think of rewards that cost money. Ben Khelifa said some of the most successful rewards offered on Emphas.is only cost the photographer time, such as one-on-one photography workshops or portfolio reviews. Ludwig added that every person who donated to his campaign was included on a donors’ list, which is posted at the exhibitions of the work.
4. Do collaborate with the people who donate to your project. Park and his partner, filmmaker Gary Hustwit, agreed to let backers vote on one of the former Olympic hosting cities that would be included in their project. He also noted that when he and Hustwit were traveling to the various cities, backers would sometimes e-mail them with recommendations about where to shoot. Jensen had some backers help with the testing of the initial CineSkates product. He also made additional product lines based on suggestions given by backers.
5. Don’t forget to communicate with backers during and after the campaign. Emphas.is was started because Ben Khelifa believes that people are interested in the experiences of photographers and photojournalists, which is why the “Making of Zone” is such a crucial part of the site. Pack said many people were into “collaborating” on his project, so he would answer e-mails throughout the campaign and then launched a website afterward so donors could stay up to date on the status of the project. He also posts updates on his Facebook page and e-mails backers regularly.
6. Do try to get funds from people outside of your personal and/or professional networks. Huey said he didn’t even ask for money from his personal networks. Instead, he appealed to the street art world, since Shepard Fairey created some of the posters, and to Native American rights groups, because his work focused on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. By identifying influential bloggers in both worlds, he was able to spread the word about his campaign to people who are passionate about these two things. Ludwig noted that you get your backers’ e-mail addresses to contact them about future campaigns, but Ben Khelifa added that this only works if you’re good at communicating during the first campaign (see above).
7. Don’t underestimate shipping costs. One of Ludwig’s rewards was a copy of his book Broken Empire: After the Fall of the USSR. Over 25 percent of the donations at this $100 reward level were from overseas, and it cost him $31 (not including packaging) to ship each book internationally. Jensen also made this mistake, by offering all backers in the U.S. free shipping once the product came out; international backers were charged an extra $20 for shipping. The problem was that shipping overseas ended up costing more than $20 and many backers in the U.S. wanted their products shipped overnight.
8. Don’t assume that all you have to do is launch the campaign and you’re done. All the panelists agreed that crowd funding is very time consuming. Huey even went so far as to say he couldn’t do another crowd-funding campaign anytime soon because the billboard campaign took over his life for two months and he just doesn’t have that kind of time right now. Ludwig noted that his studio manager was a crucial part of his campaign, while Jensen said he ended up hiring a staff of five to help once it looked like they were going to get enough money through Kickstarter to fully launch the product.
Portfolio reviews can be costly or, depending on what you make of them, cost effective. This idea—set forth by Center For Photography at Woodstock Executive Director Ariel Shanberg—was the focus of a panel this afternoon at Photo Plus Expo that aimed to help attendees understand how they can maximize their time and money during portfolio review events.
Shanberg was joined on the panel by creative consultant Mary Virginia Swanson and moderator WM Hunt, a photography collector and former gallerist. The three spoke of their appreciation for portfolio reviews and their atmosphere of discovery, where reviewers are excited to find and discuss new work that they can share with others in the photo community. “If you strike a chord [with a reviewer], they will become your advocate and refer you [to others] and try to help you,” Hunt told the photographers in the audience.
Each reviewer gave examples of photographers whose work they reviewed and were amazed by, but they also offered a host of practical tips that should help photographers make the most of these 20-minute “speed dates” with editors, collectors and curators:
Mary Virginia Swanson described several different portfolio reviews but also pointed out that her article in the new issue of Emerging Photographer magazine had information and listings of several top portfolio reviews, as does her blog, here.
Swanson suggested that photographers consider bringing a tape recorder and—with the reviewer’s permission—recording their reviews rather than taking notes so they could engage more fully with the reviewer.
She also recommended that photographers ask at the end of a review if the reviewer would like to be kept informed about the photographer’s work, and if so, how (via email, print cards, phones or discs with images….). Swanson further suggested that the photographer should ask what to put in the subject line of the email to be sure to get the reviewer’s attention.
The thickness of a photographer’s portfolio is often inversely proportionate to the quality of the work, Hunt said. He explained that the most serious, confident and thoughtful photographers have the thinnest portfolios because they have refined their work.
On the subject of how much work to show, Shanberg suggested that there is a polite limit of 20 prints. You may want to show more to a book publisher who wants to see that you have 80 images for a book, or reviewers might want to see more work if they are excited about it, but putting a white piece of board as a divider in your portfolio to suggest that a reviewer can stop after 20 or so images is welcome, Shanberg said.
Swanson added that bringing multiple bodies of work to a 20-minute review is fine as long as the photographer is comfortable with the idea that they will spend the whole time watching the reviewer look at work instead of engaging in a discussion.
The panelists and moderator agreed that following up with a handwritten, physical note of thanks made a big impression. Swanson shared an anecdote about photographer Dave Anderson, who made notes at a portfolio review of which image each reviewer he saw liked, and then sent the reviewer a note with that image.
Swanson encouraged the audience to be similarly thoughtful about their leave behind pieces, whether they are cards, accordion folds, small handmade books or other pieces. Make the text style and branding consistent with your website and other materials, and choose an image or images that will easily remind the reviewer of your work.
Shanberg encouraged the audience to think of the review process as the start of a longer conversation, and reiterated the idea that although a reviewer may not give you an exhibition or publish your work themselves, each one has the potential to nominate you for a grant or fellowship, or recommend your work to an editor or curator.
-If you are at your first review, tell the reviewer, that so they can help you manage your 20 minutes better [Mary Virginia Swanson]
-When in doubt, shut up. Which means that talking too much suggests nervousness and distracts the reviewer [WM Hunt]
-Don’t ask what the reviewer wants to see; they don’t know you and can’t answer that. Show them what you are most excited about [Shanberg]
-Don’t hand a reviewer an artist’s statement and ask them to read it. Why would they read it when they can just hear directly from you? And it shows you aren’t confident speaking about your work [Swanson, but echoed by the group]
The American Society of Media Photographers’ program, “Sustainable Business Models: Issues & Trends Facing Visual Artists,” held September 27 in New York City, can be viewed online via ASMP’s video library. Speakers and panelists provided useful context and insights into the current marketplace for photography, as well as thoughts on how professional freelancers might adapt their marketing and licensing in today’s economy. A warning, however: Along with provocative insights, the afternoon panel also included the predictable, banal observation that photojournalists have no role to play now that “everyone has a cellphone,” and statistics on how many images are uploaded to Facebook or Instagram each day or each hour or each minute. If you’re like me, you find these comments irritating. Because the first comment is untrue, and the second is irrelevant to any discussion of the professional photography business.
Yes, news editors trolled Instagram to get images of the aftermath of the Empire State Building shooting, but those image sales had no impact on the market for photos by professional news photographers: If amateur cellphone users hadn’t been on the scene, we simply wouldn’t have had any images of the carnage. Yes, a zillion snapshots of cats, babies and plates of food are shared on social media every day. What bearing does that have on what a professional photographer offers to clients or their audience? (more…)
Image technology company Stipple has launched the free public beta version of its image tagging platform, which allows users to permanently embed attribution and other content—from editorial to e-commerce links—into their images. The company hopes that their service, which has been adopted by more than online 4,000 publishers to date, and as of today is available to the general public, will help photographers, publishers and brands keep track of and monetize their images no matter where they appear on the internet.
Users of Stipple can upload images into the platform and then embed them with any content connected to a URL. For photographers this might include copyright information and a link back to their Web site, or to videos or articles that might enrich a viewer’s experience of a particular image. The information stored in the image by Stipple, the company claims, will follow that image wherever it is published on the Internet, even if the photograph’s metadata is stripped away. Other companies, such a PicScout, have offered similar services intended to help image makers and licensors protect their copyrights.
The Stipple platform also gathers data on images uploaded into the Stipple system that will allow photographers to keep track of where their images are being republished, and see how many people are viewing and engaging with their images and the content they embed into them.
“Stipple is all about context,” photographer Gerald Holubowicz told PDN via email. Holubowicz is one of a handful of photographers who were invited to participate in a private beta test. “It will help me bring more details and a wider narrative into the imagery I’m publishing…. I really like the fact that we can add videos, external links to articles or a Twitter feed.” Holubowicz says he plans to link his images to sites where he sells fine-art prints or his book.
For more information about Stipple or to try the platform visit www.stipple.com.
Have the morality police chilled artistic expression, or does this image by John Midgley–which appears on an APA promo for a talk by the fashion and celebrity photographer–violate the standards of public decency without the alteration?
Midgley is scheduled to give a talk called “Memory: Journey’s of Fiction and Fantasy” at the Apple Store at 7 p.m. today. The talk is part of the Image Maker Lecture Series sponsored by APA New York, and Midgley provided the image, undoctored, so APA could promote his talk via e-mail blasts.
According to Midgley, APA New York regional director Jocelyn Zucker told him the image wasn’t acceptable because of the boy’s nudity. “We might shock someone with a naked little boy’s penis, or do some other greater damage,” says Midgley, apologizing for his cynicism. He adds, “The puritanism drives me a little crazy sometimes.”
Zucker says, “As per our agreement with Apple, all lectures and the images presented must be ‘family friendly’ – no nudity or swearing, etc. This is not a concern on APA’s behalf; we would enjoy being able to present more controversial content, however, the Apple lectures are not the proper venue. John made the decision to use that image and censor it, rather than select a different image for the promo.”
Midgley ended up not only covering the boy’s penis, but defacing his own image.
“It wasn’t really meant to be a form of protest, it was ‘Well, if I censor the offending bits could that work?'” he explains. “So I did it quickly and in hindsight, badly. Next thing I know it’s up there [in an APA promotion.] And in a way I think subconsciously I was so pissed that it is a form of protest. It [the objection to nudity] is ridiculous and so is the censorship I imposed.”
Information about Midgley’s talk this evening is posted here (without the image) on APA’s web site.