June 11th, 2015

Photographer Lectures Expand “Emerging” Exhibit (And They’re Free)



Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream
The Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles will host a series of informative and inspiring photographer lectures over the next three months during the run of “Emerging,” the exhibition co-produced by PDN’s editors and featuring photographers selected for the annual PDN‘s 30 issue since 2008. The “Iris Nights” talks, to be held at the Skylight Studios across the park from the Annenberg, feature exhibited photographers discussing recent work, their career paths, and their approaches to a range of subject matter.

The series begins June 11 with a talk by Lauren Dukoff, the celebrity and music photographer, and it continues through September:

June 18 – Dina Litovsky
June 25 – Ilvy Njiokiktjien
July 9 – Olivia Bee
July 16 – Katie Orlinsky
July 23 – JUCO (Julia Galdo & Cody Cloud)
July 30 – Nicole Tung
August 6 – Peter DiCampo
August 13 – Marcus Smith
August 20 – Pari Dukovic
August 27 – Toni Greaves
September 3 – Bryan Derballa
September 10 – Corey Arnold
September 24 – Diana Markosian

The schedule is subject to change, of course, but we’re delighted to see some of the most thoughtful, articulate participants in past PDN’s 30 panels are scheduled to share their stories with the public.

More information is available on the events page of the Annenberg Space for Photography website:  annenbergphotospace.org/events

Related Articles:
New Perspectives: “Emerging” at the Annenberg Space

PDN Video: Marcus Smith on How to Attract the Clients You Want

PDN Video: Olivia Bee on Instagram, iPhones, Expectations and Envy

May 22nd, 2015

In Memoriam: Environmental Portrait Photographer Seth Kushner, 41

Seth KushnerSeth Kushner, a photographer who shot environmental portraits for The New York Times Magazine, Time, Vibe and Businessweek and was selected for PDN’s 30 in 1999, died May 17 of leukemia. He was 41.

A native of Brooklyn, Kushner knew he wanted to be a photographer when he was in high school. After he graduated from the School of Visual Arts in New York City, he began shooting a number of editorial assignments and was syndicated by Retna. When he was profiled for the first issue of PDN’s 30: New and Emerging Photographers to Watch in 1999, photo editor Michelle Molloy, then at Newsweek, praised the vibrancy and energy of Kushner’s portraits, and noted, “He also hits it off well with people, which is important for a portrait photographer, yet he never loses perspective of the person he’s shooting.” Kushner said, “I want to say either by location or action or clothes or composition what my subjects are about, aside from simply what they look like.”

Kushner turned his passions for two of his favorite subjects – Brooklyn and comic books—into photo books. In 2007, he published The Brooklynites (powerHouse Books), which combined his environmental portraits of Brooklyn residents, both famous and unknown, with interviews by Anthony LaSala (former senior editor at PDN). Years before “Brooklyn” became synonymous with “hipster Mecca,” The Brooklynites celebrated residents from every part of the borough and every walk of life: writers and actors, a sanitation worker, a handball player, a pizza maker, clergy, teachers, British émigrés raising toddlers in Park Slope.

Stan Lee. Photo © Seth Kushner

Stan Lee. Photo © Seth Kushner

A collector of super-hero memorabilia, Kushner co-founded the website Graphic NYC in 2008 with writer Christopher Irving to celebrate pioneering comic book artists. Kushner expanded the website into a book, Leaping Tall Buildings: The Origins of American Comic Books, published by powerHouse Books in 2012. It featured Kushner’s portraits of such artists as Stan Lee, founder of Marvel Comics; Joe Simon, co-creator of Captain America; Frank Miller, creator of Sin City; and Art Spiegelman, author of the graphic memoir Maus.

Kushner was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in 2014. Members of the communities Kushner was most involved with – the photo community, comic book artists and fans, and his neighborhood in Brooklyn—contributed to an online fundraising campaign set up to raise money for medical bills and living expenses while Kushner was unable to work. Memorial contributions to the campaign will now help support his wife, Terra, and their son, Jackson, who survive him.

Related article:
PDN Photo of the Day: Real-Life Comic Book Heroes

March 27th, 2014

PDN’s 30 Photographers Provide Career Tips to Aspiring Photographers (UPDATED)

pdn30-2014-sva-blog2
A panel featuring three of this year’s PDN’s 30 photographers discussed strategies for building a successful career and offered a wealth of useful tips to an audience of students and industry professionals at the School of Visual Arts theater in New York last evening.

The PDN’s 30 photographers, Bobby Doherty (still life), Billy Kidd (fashion), and Bryan Derballa (editorial/lifestyle), discussed how they found their visual styles, how they use social media to get noticed, build networks and land jobs, and the importance of learning and practicing good business skills. Photographer Tony Gale, a Sony Artisan of Imagery who has taught photography, and photo editor Emily Shornick of The Cut at New York magazine, also provided insights on navigating the industry. The evening was sponsored by Sony, Offset, Canson Paper and ASMP.

Describing how they launched their careers, Doherty, Kidd and Derballa all said they developed their visual styles by shooting whatever interested them a lot–even obsessively.

“It’s important to be making the kind of photos you would want to get paid to do, before you get paid to do it,” Doherty said.

Bobby Doherty's early makeshift studio.

Bobby Doherty’s early makeshift studio.

A 2011 graduate of SVA, he started by experimenting with conceptual still life work in his apartment at night. “I didn’t have any money. I had two flashes, and [bar] stools” and broom handles that served as stands (shown at right). Doherty says he was focusing on “how to accomplish an idea with as little as possible, technically.”

Kidd says when he moved from Arizona to New York, he did test shoots with models four, five, or six times a week–“whatever I could do,” he says. “I experimented with light, to find out who I was.”

Shornick emphasized the importance of developing a distinctive personal style. When it comes to hiring a photographer, she said, “”I don’t want to be surprised. I want to pre-visualize” what a photographer will deliver.

One of the biggest challenges for photographers is getting noticed. All the photographers on the panel said they take as much pleasure in sharing their work as they do in shooting it, and they use social media–particularly Tumblr–to build audiences.

Kidd said he posted images from his test shoots on a Tumblr blog. “That’s how my rep found me–from my Tumblr page,” he says. On his Tumblr page, he says, he posts “everything I shoot, and want to show people.”

“Be liberal and fun with your Tumblr,” advised Derballa. Years ago he started Lovebryan, a blog that features not only his work, but that of several other photographers whose work he likes. Derballa also noted that he uses Tumblr “to follow trends” by looking at what other photographers are shooting.

Panelists also discussed the importance of personal connections and face-to-face networking. Doherty says working as an assistant eventually led to a job with Lucas Michael, who shoots for New York Magazine. That led to a meeting with Director of Photography Jody Quon, and a couple of weeks later, Doherty had his first assignment from the magazine.

Kidd says he got access to models for test shoots through a friend who worked for modeling agencies. Derballa got his first assignment from The Wall Street Journal after a chance meeting with former photo editor Matthew Craig while Derballa was talking about a self-funded assignment at a bar with another photographer.

The discussion also turned to business practices, particularly the importance of good communication skills, dependability, and presenting a professional appearance in your emails and invoices.

Here are some tips the panelists offered:

On networking:

Connect with everyone you can while still in school, including teachers, fellow photography students, and students in other departments.

Attend industry events and meet everyone you can, without thinking: Who can I talk to who can give me work?

If you’re shy, and feel uncomfortable schmoozing at events, force yourself to go with a goal of meeting just one person. Those connections multiply, Gale said. “Then you’re the person who everyone wants to meet because you can introduce them to other people.”

On assisting:

Be an assistant. By assisting, Gale explained, you connect to people and resources, “and you learn so many things it’s not possible to learn in school” about technique and business.

To get assisting jobs, a good attitude is more important than technical know-how, Gale said. “What I need is someone who is going to be paying attention, and not be upset that I said ‘everybody is going to need coffee’ or ‘sorry, but you have to stand out in rain and watch the gear.'”

When you send e-mails asking about work as an assistant, personalize them, Gale advised. “Don’t send an e-mail addressed to 30 other photographers.” And don’t talk about what a great photographer you are, he said. “I don’t care.”

On approaching photo editors:

“Email with a link. That makes it easy to bookmark you,” Shornick said. Mailers just get thrown in a drawer and forgotten. Email “every now and then” about a recent assignment or new personal work, she added. “Quarterly is a good approach.”

No cold calls. “I’m really busy, I just don’t have time,” Shornick said.

Don’t show up unannounced. “That’s really inappropriate.”

Make sure your web site loads fast, and is free of bells and whistles. “I hate Flash websites. I just want to see your work,” said Shornick, who has discovered photographers at portfolio reviews and through Flickr.

Provide multiple contacts and Indicate your physical location. “If I can’t figure out where you live I’m never going to hire you,” Shornick said.

On providing good service to clients:

Be dependable. “The most important thing is [meeting] deadlines,” Shornick said.

Be responsive. “I always pick up [phone calls]. It’s probably someone who wants to hire you, or wants to know why the photos aren’t there,” Derballa said.
“Yeah, pick up the phone,” Shornick said, or she’ll just call another photographer.

UPDATE: The School of Visual Arts has published a video of this talk:

Related articles:

PDN’s 30 2014: New and Emerging Photographers to Watch

9 Tips for Getting Hired (and Re-Hired) as a Photographer’s Assistant

May 17th, 2013

Video Pick: PDN’s 30 Panel at Palm Springs Photo Fest

If you didn’t get a chance to attend the PDN‘s 30 panel at this year’s Palm Springs Photo Festival, you can now watch it below! The symposium, called “PDN Presents: Strategies for the Emerging Photographer,” took place on Monday April 29 and was moderated by PDN Editor Holly Stuart Hughes. The panelists were: 2013 PDN‘s 30 photographers Ian Allen, John Francis Peters and Jessica Sample; Photo Editor Emily Shornick, who works at NYMag.com’s The Cut; and Sony Artisan of Imagery Andy Katz. The photographers discuss how they transitioned to shooting professionally, while Shornick gives insight on what photo editors are looking for when hiring photographers.

You can see the complete list of 2013 PDN‘s 30 photographers at pdnevents.com/pdn30.

PDN’s Strategies For The Emerging Photographer at the Palm Springs Photo Festival from PALM SPRINGS PHOTO FESTIVAL on Vimeo.

March 15th, 2012

PDN’s 30 Panel: Perspective and Persistence Key to Success for Young Photogs

Sam Kaplan, Ryan Pfluger and Holly Hughes at PDN's 30 seminar

©Amber Terranova. Sam Kaplan, Ryan Pfluger and Holly Stuart Hughes at the March 14, 2012 PDN's 30 Seminar at the School for Visual Arts Theater in New York City.

At the first in a series of educational seminars organized as part of the 2012 PDN’s 30 programming, three photographers named to this year’s PDN’s 30 spoke about the importance of establishing and unique esthetic perspective, and about being persistent in creating and promoting new work to potential clients.

The panel discussion at the School for Visual Arts Theater in New York City, which was moderated by PDN editor Holly Stuart Hughes, included PDN’s 30 photographers Sam Kaplan, Peter Ash Lee and Ryan Pfluger, as well as veteran photographer Andy Katz and New York Times Magazine associate photo editor Clinton Cargill. (more…)