Friday, August 17, 2012

You are never too young to learn!
   When I first started out in 1980, I did a folio show to an art director at a big name agency.  After reviewing my work, he turned to me and said there was nothing in my work that would make him want to use me, telling me it was amateurish and lacked talent and presentation.  Then he asked me if I was willing to work, which I said 'yes.'  We went back into his office where he showed me several examples of photographs he had recently been using, and then suggested that I do several self-assignments where I pushed myself way beyond what I had presented.  He promised he would meet with me again if I would do that and give me further critique to help me.  Best help I ever received and I took him up on it. 
    Today, I often work as a photo editor on book projects with young photographers who think they are 'all that'.  If I ask them to shoot something differently, they take great offense like I don't know what I am doing, though I have been shooting professionally longer than they have been alive.  I really do enjoy working with young people trying to develop themselves.  Most do not want criticism, but when I meet someone who is willing to work and take some direction, I am willing to pursue them and give them assignments.  This month, I finished a book project where one photographer kept submitting images processed through HDR after I had told him repeatedly they didn't fit with what we were doing, and each time he was greatly offended.  Of 140 photographs in the book, I used only 3, and one of them I reduced to smaller than a business card.  I had a young woman who came in and took my direction and even several times reshot an image to reflect the book direction.  She got probably about 40 full pages of her images.  And she was a delight to work with even bringing many suggestions and ideas to me which I usually used.
   Bottom line, pay attention photogs.  LISTEN and learn.  You don't know everything but there are many editors out there willing to help those who are willing to learn and be stretched.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Photographs that Build Integrity!

imaging solutions that build integrity! I recently walked into the offices of a company that has had me shoot extensively for them over the years. In the lobby, throughout the halls and offices and conference rooms, large 24x30 and 30x45 inch photographs are hung from these images. There must be 40 or 50 of these displays. The displays show all aspects of their products and people. You cannot fail to grasp what it is they do and who they are. They design and produce hitech equipment, but what they show on their walls is that they are a company of very dedicated people who work with the highest degree of integrity. The images are also extensively used in their collateral and promotional pieces and websites. I just finished another shoot and display print run of 13 more for them. There is a certain rush that photographers and designers get when they see their work so prominently displayed. But there is one thing that perhaps stands out to me more than anything. It is their integrity and witness. They are a company that really does look out for others, whether it be each other or their vendors or their customers. They always put anothers interests ahead of themselves. I have always strived to do that in my career, but working with them makes me pay even more attention to it. It is the 'iron sharpening iron' that makes us better people when we hang around people that also work to be better and more caring people. James Cash Penney believed and lived the Golden Rule and made it a central part of his company. "In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets." Matthew 7:12 The Biblical Golden Rule puts the responsibilty on me to do the good thing to others, whether or not they have done anything good for me. It is not a Quid Pro Quo kind of thing where I only do for others after they have done for me. It is a 'I do for them regardless...' The companies I have most enjoyed working for over the years were active in employing this truth throughout their company and it was exampled from the top down. When we look around and see the erosion of ethics on Wall Street, in Washington D.C. and on Main Street in our own hometown, we find ourselves thinking the world is going to hell in a handbasket, so we ourselves drop our standards. If ever there is a time to demonstrate power and human compassion, it is right now in each of our lives. It has to begin somewhere. Going about our day living the high truth of this is powerful in ways we will never understand until we actually begin to live it. What those 2-dimensional photographs on the walls show are people who are multi-dimensional flesh and blood working to live out this truth. What a pleasure it is to work with them...

Monday, April 26, 2010

Reinventing ourselves in a vacuum

A friend told me a couple years ago that it is easier to give birth to something new than to reinvigorate something that is dysfunctional. He had quit his successful film career to move to Africa and work with the people building fish farms. When he and his wife arrived he was told that it had already been tried and didn't work. My friend does not listen to discouragement and set about building the farms anyhow. And within just a couple of years the farms were not only producing food but providing substantial incomes for the local people as well. Presidents of countries began seeking him out to do the same in their countries. His initial premise proved to be true in nearly every aspect. It is easier to start a new work than to reinvigorate that which is dying.

I am a commercial photographer. In March 2011, I celebrated my 31th year of shooting under my own studio name. Like so many others, I dedicated myself to shooting great photography for industry, corporations and advertising. I have shot for some truly wonderful and talented people over those years. Together we have created campaigns and imaging that brings the corporate world into other peoples homes and offices so they take notice.

The last 10 years have brought very challenging and difficult times on professional commercial photography. Marketing isn't done the same way it was even 10 years ago. Images are definitely not created and produced the same way. Gone are the darkrooms, the chemistry trays and tanks, the fancy studios and the big budgets. But in their place is a completely new range of tools and capabilities that sets a good photographer to anxious anticipation. And so too the art directors and creative directors of agencies and publishers.

I can tell you this much: It is the learning and experimenting part of this business that I love best. When I first started out years ago, I had so much to learn, and my portfolio was awful. Today, I have a portfolio most people admire, but the industry climate has changed so that the challenge of learning and experimenting is still very real and exciting.

And yet it all boils down to people and relationships. That is the same and will always be! I love people, I enjoy building good relationships and I still like delivering jobs to clients and having them call me to say that there is so much to choose from it is hard to make a decision.

There are some things you don't reinvent. There are some things best not changed at all.