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DC Diary: AARP The Magazine, National Geographic Traveler, RTCRM and An Evening with Jess Dudley

Tuesday March 29th, 2011

by Maria Luci

On Thursday Jess and I met up bright and early for a DC portfolio adventure. The trip down was a smooth one, and we arrived with time to spare at our first review, AARP The Magazine. As we walked through the chilly streets pushing our cart of portfolios, a woman stopped us and asked what we were carrying. It turns out she was the Director of Photography at VIVA, AARP’s bilingual English and Spanish magazine. She took our cards and mentioned that she was familiar with Wonderful Machine. It was an interesting meet and greet on the street.

After parting ways with the DP at VIVA, Jess and I made our way into the AARP offices. They have a huge space, with several “towers.” The building is something of a maze to navigate, with only certain floors connecting to specific parts of the building. Once our guide had directed us to our conference room, we started to set out a large selection of books. AARP The Magazine is the world’s largest circulation magazine, with over 47 million readers. Their magazine is filled with a wide array of photography, from portraits to still life to landscape; this was a great opportunity to show a variety of books.

We set the portfolios around the table and two AARP photo editors walked around and flipped through. They were very friendly and wanted to know all about Wonderful Machine—how it started, how many photographers do we have, can we help them with stock? They were also very forthcoming about the AARP photography process. They even called in the Director of Photography for the AARP Bulletin, someone WM has worked with several times in the past. It was nice to meet in person and have him see a few books.

The AARP photo editors looked through all the books, made little packets of leave behinds and thumbed through our WM print mailers. We talked about their current issue and some of the photography I admired in it. We also discussed the books and the photographers, with a few books standing out to the photo editors. One of the PEs really loved Roberto Westbrook’s portraits, especially the color and tone. The other editor was interested in Ball & Albanese’s serene travel work, and Erin Kunkel’s book was an all around hit. While looking through Erin’s book one photo editor exclaimed, “Oh, I love her!” Darren Hauck’s striking photojournalism also got some attention.

Erin Kunkel’s portfolio video:

After we had discussed Wonderful Machine, AARP, and all the books on the table, we packed up and said our goodbyes.

Jess and I then made our way to our next meeting at National Geographic Traveler. We got a little mixed up on the way and ended up in their museum, but eventually found ourselves walking up into a throwback style conference room. There we met with two photo editors and a photo intern. The whole Nat Geo Traveler group was very friendly, and very interested in learning more about Wonderful Machine. They already knew of our site but didn’t know a lot about the services we offered, such as stock requests, our On the Move widget (something that very much interested this group), our numerous locations, and the fact that we’re always here to help them find the perfect photographer.

After some WM discussion we moved on to checking out the books. At the request of NGT, Sean and I had put together a list of travel photographers from all over the world. They carefully looked through each book, and even looked through supplemental books and leave behinds. They all wanted to know where the photographers were based, and learned a little more about each one.

The Nat Geo creatives were already familiar with Nick Hall and his stunning landscapes, and gushed over Raymond Patrick, who had just shot an assignment for them in New York. Photography teams such as Morgan and Owens and Ball and Albanese garnered some attention with their unique offerings. Morgan and Owens will tag team a project, one shooting one aspect while the other shoots something else, while Ball and Albanese will both shoot the same shot from different angles, sometimes one using film and the other digital. Both methods were of much interest to NGT. Another point of interest was Thomas Pickard, both for his unique location, the Cook Islands, and his beautiful aerial shot of beach bungalows.

Thomas Pickard’s portfolio video:

The one photographer that stood out the most to NGT was Lianne Milton, for her uniquely photojournalistic and slightly grittier style. However, every book was appreciated and each photographer discussed for some time. It was truly a great review!

After promising to send follow-up links to the photo editors, we started to head on our way. But not before Jess got some honeymoon location advice from the group, who knew all the best vacation spots! One photo editor thought Jess should head to South America while another had Belize at the top of her list. They gave Jess some back issues of Nat Geo Traveler to review, and then we were on our way.

After a quick bite to eat, we drove to Georgetown for our final portfolio review of the day. We made our way to RTCRM, a national marketing and advertising agency whose clients include Pfizer, Audi, Baxter and more. When we arrived, we walked into a conference room full of creatives already waiting for us! We’ve never felt so popular before. We unloaded and handed the books to a lively group of art directors who were excited to look through the books.

The group was definitely a fun one, making jokes and laughing it up. Books were passed left and right and people were asking others to “come look at what I’m looking at!” A few standouts to the creatives at this review included Claire Benoist, Rebecca Drobis, and Roger Hagadone. Claire’s unique fish egg shots and gummy worms had people talking, Rebecca’s “Toddlers & Tiaras” series was a great conversation piece, and Roger’s outrageous portraits had one creative remarking how amazing his work was and how it looked so much like illustration.

Rebecca Drobis’s portfolio video:

However, the party had to eventually come to an end, so we packed up our things and said goodbye. But the night was not over yet! We still had “An Evening with Jess Dudley” ahead of us. Jess was speaking at the local ASMP chapter about marketing, pricing, and negotiating—but we had some time, so we did a little sightseeing around Georgetown before making our way to Glen Echo for the presentation.

After Jess gave an interesting talk on marketing tips, licensing, and estimating we got together with some of our DC and Baltimore photographers who had attended the event and headed over to the Irish pub next door. We had a great time chatting with the photographers and drinking pints of Guinness. We learned that Rebecca Drobis had gotten an amazing job from Disney through Wonderful Machine and heard more about a personal project Kevin Coloton is working on. Scott Suchman filled us in on his Canadian ski trips while Robb Scharetg kept us laughing with jokes. After some interesting conversations about St Louis, Detroit, and crazy cab drivers, we finished our drinks and said goodnight. Then it was back on the road and back to Wonderful Machine for Jess and me.

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