PDN recently interviewed WIRED magazine senior photo editor Maria Lokke about what’s she’s looking for in the photographers she hires, and how she finds them. In this video, she talks about assignments she gave recently to photographers Brea Souders and Cole Barash, and what made them the right photographers for those jobs.
Lokke also offered some insight and advice for photographers who are interested in shooting for WIRED. Here’s what she told us:
PDN: What’s the best way for photographers to reach you and get their work in front of you?
Maria Lokke: I pay a lot of attention to social media. I do appreciate when people reach out. Instead of sending a mass email to lots of different editors, I like when people are really thoughtful and pay attention to whatever publication they’re trying to work for, the types of photography that magazine publishes, and cater an email or newsletter update to that publication. And more specifically, [I like] if someone knows me and the type of work that I usually go for and reaches out because they know they would be a good fit. I respond well to that personalized approach.
PDN: What do you like? What do you look for in photographers?
ML: For me, knowing [a photographer] has a really strong personal practice or interest that they’re cultivating outside the work they’re commissioned for is really important, because it shows you’re an independent thinker and you’re self-motivated and you have interests that are special to you. Photographers I’m really drawn to or respond well to are people that have well developed personal styles and tastes that feel special and are well-cultivated.
PDN: Aside from photographers not researching the magazine and sending the wrong kind of pitch, are there other mistakes that photographers commonly make? Or things about your job that you wish photographers understood better?
ML: That’s probably the main thing: not doing your homework and sending work that doesn’t make any sense for the publication. That and maybe sending too many promos or too many emails.
PDN: What constitutes too many?
ML: I think more than once a month, or more than once every couple months. I feel like [you shouldn’t] send an update unless you’ve actually done a significant amount of new work or new projects. If you haven’t refreshed anything in your collection or if you aren’t working on anything new, there’s no need to repeat yourself.
PDN: What keeps you from rehiring photographers?
ML: If photographers are disorganized or don’t listen to direction, and we have specific needs that aren’t addressed or aren’t done, we probably wouldn’t hire [them] again. Or if they’ve been difficult with the subjects. A lot of the people we photograph are not celebrities. They’re new to being photographed, so having a photographer that’s going to be able to make someone feel comfortable being photographed is a huge plus for us. If someone has a bad experience being photographed, then usully the photo is not going to look great, and we probably wouldn’t rehire that photographer.
PDN: And what makes you want to rehire someone you’ve worked with?
ML: I think when people we’ve hired get excited about the topic and contribute a lot of ideas in terms of what they’d be excited to produce for the story, I love that. That’s exciting to me, and that makes me want to work with them again.
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