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DC Diary (Discovery Communications, GMMB, Ritz Carlton, Smithsonian Magazine)

Monday September 24th, 2012

by Sean Stone

Our recent trip to Washington DC began with a lesson learned: when renting a car, it’s not a bad idea to call ahead and make sure they’re not “upgrading” you to a vehicle the size of a bus. This can be a problem when traveling to a major city where parking is scarce.

Kayleen and I left early in the day, sailing our monstrous SUV/boat through morning rush hour traffic to the offices of Discovery Communications. We had a terrific turnout—the creatives were extremely friendly and impressed with all the work. They were particularly drawn to the portfolios of Buff Strickland, Rob Scharetg, Nick Hall and the motion work from Jeffrey Lamont Brown. And, to nobody’s surprise, Mark Katzman‘s impressive print/ipad presentation once again turned a lot of heads. One art buyer even went to her office and returned with a camera to snap a few shots of Mark’s portfolio. One of the most valuable things we get from these meetings is a chance to have a more relaxed chat with clients whom we normally exchange quick emails with, and get a sense of how they find and use photography. Talking to art buyers at Discovery, we learned that they no longer license images.They told us that they had issues educating clients about the different kinds of usage they were permitted and decided to avoid such dilemmas by “purchasing all rights.” Everyone we spoke to agreed that they love to see printed books, but none of them were opposed to iPads, especially as a supplement to a printed piece. There you go photographers, the last excuse you needed to buy a new iPad. You’re on your own justifying the iPhone 5.

Discovery review.

Jeffrey Lamont Brown’s motion reel:

Buff Strickland’s portfolio video:

We repacked the beast and headed across town to the swanky, new office of GMMB. So new, in fact, that the stairway had just been completed the day before our arrival. We entered the conference room, with its fabulous view of Washington Harbor, to a room full of 20 eager creatives. We passed around books and worked our way through the crowd answering questions and explaining the awesomeness of our members. GMMB works with a lot of non-profits, so they were especially attracted to our documentary photographers, as well as portraiture that was “socially motivated.” Favorites included Beto Adame, Radhika Chalasani, Annabel Clark and Eric Kruszewski. We ended our meeting with a nice chat with the head of the creative department, before ever so carefully extracting our vehicle from a cramped garage and headed to the seat of all elegance: Ritz Carlton!

GMMB creatives reviewing portfolios.

Radhika Chalasani’s portfolio video:

Well, it was just their office, but it was still pretty nice. We arrived as we often do, with a tray of catered snacks. The corporate marketing coordinator we met with thanked us repeatedly for the treats. We also brought a small selection of books for this meeting, since we knew they would be choosy. Chatting with her, we learned just how choosy: unlike most hotel chains, Ritz mainly works with a select group of seven photographers with whom they cultivate long working relationships. She was impressed with everyone we presented, including Martin Dyrlov, Alvaro Leiva, and Evan Joseph.

Ritz's ritzy sign.

Before our final meeting at Smithsonian Magazine, we made a quick stop at Georgetown Cupcakes. Upon arrival at Smithsonian, we learned our meeting turned out to be scheduled at a perfect time; they were already frequent users of Wonderful Machine, but had just completed a major redesign of their magazine. They told us they would be hiring for a lot more conceptual work and still life, and were looking for new photographers all over the country. They immediately recognized James Quantz‘s portfolio, since they had just hired him for their October issue. They were also very impressed with Adam Voorhes, Vincent Ricardel, John Kuczala, and the cupcakes.

Smithsonian review.

John Kuczala’s portfolio video:

After the meeting, we headed just a few blocks down the road to Cantina Marina, which is on the waterfront of the Washington Channel. There we had the chance to meet up with Stacy Zarin Goldberg, Jason Hornick, Matthew Rakola, and Edgar Artiga. It’s fun to meet our local members after a busy day and discuss our impressions vs. their more informed view of their own cities. Kayleen and I had been impressed by how friendly everyone had been, which they all agreed was true of Washington in general, at least compared to other cities in the Northeast.

From left: Jason Hornick, Stacy Zarin Goldberg, Kayleen, Matthew Rakola.

We spent a leisurely time with our photographers, watched the sun go down over the water while we once again timed our exit around the notorious DC traffic. A few hours later we were back in Philly, tired but very happy with the day behind us.

 

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