After four meetings that took us from Raleigh to Greensboro, Kayleen and I ended our second day in North Carolina at Lewbowski’s Grill in Charlotte. There, we met with some of our Charlotte crew—Dhanraj Emanuel, Peter Taylor, James Quantz Jr, Liz Nemeth and Tibor Nemeth—and threw back a couple of cold ones. Unfortunately, I couldn’t convince anyone to try Lewbowski’s specialty drink, the white Russian—but we had a blast anyway, chatting about photography, studios, stuffed foxes and just about everything in between. Eventually, Kayleen and I, tired from a day full of meetings, had to bid farewell and go get a good night’s sleep.
Charlotte happy hour.
Our last day in North Carolina began early. Refreshed and ready for another busy day, we made our way into Luquire George Andrews (LGA), an advertising agency whose clients include North Carolina Tourism, Carolina Panthers, and American Tire Distributors. We took some photos with their ginormous Christmas tree before heading into the meeting. Bearing gifts of danishes and coffee, we laid out around 15 portfolios and called the LGAers in. Several creatives were mesmerized by Cade Martin‘s ethereal photos while others praised James Quantz Jr.’s composite work. Our retoucher Janko Williams was once again a hit while anyone with dog photos was an instant favorite.
“You can never go wrong with cute kids or puppies on a promo,” one creative told us as we packed up our things. I made a mental note of this and said goodbye. For the first time on our trip, we found ourselves with free time before our next meeting. So we drove into Charlotte and gave ourselves a mini tour, eventually parking at Hearst Tower to grab some coffee and check our email. Hearst boasted an even bigger tree than LGA’s, so we continued our photo project before heading to our next meeting at BooneOakley.
Outside of BooneOakley
You may recall BooneOakley from AMC’s The Pitch, or seen them listed as Ad Age‘s 2009 Small Agency of the Year. This small shop boasts big clients like Bojangle’s, Ruby Tuesday, Carmax, and more. Of course, another Christmas tree awaited in their office, this one of the silver variety. After snapping a photo, we laid out the books and coffee cake and waited for the BO creatives. Soon a friendly and chatty group arrived and began paging through books. Leah Perry‘s beauty/fashion work was well received as was Cheyne Gallarde‘s vintage style. The meeting was fun, with lots of laughs. We also had a lively discussion on using animals in photo shoots, including one with a skittish serval.
After finishing up the BO review, we left for our last meeting: WrayWard. WrayWard is a creative marketing and advertising agency with a spacious office just outside downtown Charlotte. We finished our Christmas tree series in their lobby before spreading out books in an airy, window-lit conference room.
The WrayWard creatives told us they were most interested in home/garden work at the moment, and Cheryl Zibkisky‘s interiors stole the show. However, other favorites included Robb Scharetg and Calvin Lockwood for their portrait and food work respectively. The group was also pleased to hear about our stock and production services.
Once the meeting came to a close, Kayleen and I packed up our bags for the last time and headed to the airport. There, we happily handed over our giant cases of books to be checked. Relieved of that heavy burden and with plenty of time before our flight, we sat down for a couple well-deserved margaritas and toasted to North Carolina!
Thanks for being so inviting, North Carolinians!
Our Christmas tree project! From top left to bottom right: LGA, WrayWard, BooneOakley and Hearst Tower
Last week, Kayleen Kauffman and I flew from Philadelphia down to North Carolina’s capital city of Raleigh. We arrived with almost 300 pounds of luggage in tow and were quickly introduced to some southern hospitality. No offense to the other cities we’ve visited over the years, but we found North Carolinians to be beyond helpful. Almost immediately, people began helping with our heavy cases and guided us on our way, which helped us arrive at our photographer happy hour at The Flying Saucer Draught Emporium ahead of schedule.
The Flying Saucer was a great place to meet with our Raleigh roster. We had a fun time downing a couple brews from their gigantic beer selection, and playing a round of bar trivia with Brent Clark, Bruce DeBoer, Bryan Regan, Jason Dail and Joel Collins. It was a great meetup—even though we lost badly at trivia. After happy hour, Kayleen and I headed back to the hotel to get some rest before the packed day we had ahead.
Raleigh happy hour.
The next morning, our first stop was at McKinney, in Durham. McKinney is an ad agency with a wide range of clients including Travelocity, Gold’s Gym, Samsung, Nationwide and more. There we met with art producer Stephanie Witchger, who continued the trend of North Carolina friendliness by offering us a warm welcome and showing us through their massive office (which happens to be an old tobacco factory). Once in a cozy conference room, we laid out the books for Stephanie to review. She was happy to look through all of them and seemed excited to learn everything Wonderful Machine has to offer.
Outside of McKinney.
Of the books we showed, Stephanie especially liked the work of Jeff Wilson, Bryan Regan and Liz Nemeth, but made sure to take promos from everyone to share on their giant promo wall. She told us that at the moment things are winding down for the holidays, but once spring hits, they’ll go back into photographer hiring mode.
After all the books were reviewed, Stephanie was even kind enough to walk us to the parking garage! All this southern hospitality was making us giddy and we cheerfully said goodbye as we headed to our next meeting at Howard Merrell & Partners.
HM&P is a Raleigh-based full service ad agency with clients like Butterball, Dixie and Cisco. We arrived with our books and were appreciating their interesting decor—including a replica of Phineas Gage‘s skull—when creative director Billy Barnes came by to tell us our contact for the meeting had recently left the company. We were ready to head out the door when Billy told us he would still be happy to get the crew together and ushered us into a conference room filled with art directors. It was a great review, with a few favorites being Michael Herb, Tibor Nemeth, and Bruce DeBoer. The group said that they prefer to review printed portfolios over iPads and were happy to see so many print books on the table. Once all the portfolios were flipped through, promos taken, and WM tshirts handed out, we packed up again and hit the road for Pace Communications in Greensboro.
Being on a tight schedule, Kayleen and I raced to Greensboro, and with little time for lunch, grabbed a quick bite to eat at Dunkin Donuts—may I suggest the bagels? Then we headed to Pace, a content solutions agency whose clients include US Airways, Syngenta, American Cancer Society and Walmart. The Pace team puts together dozens of publications like Four Seasons Magazine and AAA Traveler. We arrived at their office bearing gifts—hot coffee and cake—and soon a crowd of photo editors and designers came flooding in. Many already knew about Wonderful Machine and were quite the brand advocates as others asked what we do. Kayleen and I hardly had to say a word as a photo editor went on about how great using both the WM site and our stock services is—and several creatives mentioned having worked with our photo editor Sean Stone.
By the end of the meeting, we’d run out of a lot of promos and all 15 books on the table had been flipped through several times. Mark Weinberg and Peter Taylor‘s travel photos were especially popular, while Dhanraj Emanuel‘s scrumptious food photos had stomachs rumbling. Chip Kalback‘s adventure photography also got a lot of nice compliments, and several creatives recognized Chris Burkard‘s work as they’d worked with him before. The meeting went exceptionally well with lots of great conversations about our photographers, WM, and the photography needs of Pace Communications.
Eventually we had to pull away and say goodbye as we still had the last meeting of the day: Mullen in Winston-Salem. For this late afternoon review, we brought some snacks and beer to liven things up. Here we met with John Rosato, their senior art producer, who was once a photo rep himself. John rallied the troops and we soon had a photo party going, with lots of creatives flipping and sipping. Everyone seemed to really like Liz Nemeth’s still life work along with Terry Vine‘s luxury lifestyle photos and Brent Clark‘s Christmas series. One of their favorite books was of our retoucher Janko Williams.
Once the books were perused and the beer and cookies were gone, we said goodbye and headed out. We were very happy with the successful (and friendly!) day behind us. Kayleen and I were also looking forward to our next photographer happy hour and another day full of meetings in North Carolina’s largest city: Charlotte. Stay tuned for Part II of our North Carolina portfolio adventure, which will be posted next week!
Looking back, we probably should have expected that driving in New York shortly after a hurricane would be problematic, but on November 15, Paul and I drove in for portfolio reviews blissfully unaware of the traffic horrors awaiting us. Things were going smoothly until we started seeing signs directing us past the Lincoln Tunnel, then the bridges. Eventually, we had to enter Manhattan through The Holland Tunnel. This took us over an hour and we found ourselves rushing to our first meeting (even though we left quite early in the morning!). But luck was on our side and we were shaking hands with Marie Claire photo editors Ashley and Lizzy right on time.
The Marie Claire review. From left: Lizzy, Ashley and Maria
Having visited Marie Claire two years ago, we knew they prefer seeing reportage and non-LA/NY based shooters. With that in mind, we showed the work of our documentary photographers Beth Rooney, Eli Meir Kaplan and Radhika Chalasani—all of whom got great responses from Ashley and Lizzy. Eli was a particular favorite, especially his adorable pony series.
And just in case, we also brought a few celeb/portrait/fashion shooters from cities large and small. Of these books, Jeremy Deputat‘s iPad was a top pick. They were especially happy to learn that he’s based in Detroit—which is not always the easiest place to find amazing celebrity photographers.
View from Marie Claire’s conference room.
We packed up the car and moved at a crawl to More Magazine. Luckily, we made it into the Meredith building just in time to meet More‘s photography director, Natasha Lunn, and three members of the photo department. Unlike Marie Claire, this group was happy to see lots of fashion and celebrity work, “oohing and awing” over Monica Stevenson, Samantha Wolov, Austin Hargrave and Jodi Jones‘ books.
The More Magazine review. Quite the stylish group!
We had a good visit at More, and they were extremely pleased with the selection of work. And when they found out our next meeting was across the hall at Fitness Magazine they ran and grabbed the FM photo editor Karina. That way, we didn’t have to lug all the books across the building. Thanks, More ladies!
Paul and I sat down with Karina who was looking for (no surprise) sports and fitness work, along with still life and fashion. She said they’re moving away from happy-go-lucky women working out on seamless backdrops, and moving towards more “realistic” photos of athletes excercising on location. With that in mind, we showed the fitness work of Nick Hall and Kevin Winzeler, who were both well received. She also loved David Arky‘s still life and Christopher Shane‘s lifestyle photography.
After thanking Katrina for her time and presenting her with a highly sought-after WM t-shirt, we rushed to the car for our last meeting: NBC. Seeing that we wouldn’t arrive on time if we had to park, I dropped Paul in front of 75 Rockefeller Center (their temporary office) with a giant case of portfolios. He made a mad dash into the building where he was asked by an employee if he was there for the casting. Personally, I might have dropped the case and played along, but Paul declined. Finally, he met up with NBC’s photo coordinator and director of photography.
While Paul was showing books to NBC, I drove around in circles and took some photos of Radio City Music Hall…
Right off the bat they asked Paul for recommendations for photographers in Atlanta, which he was happy to provide. Of the books on hand, they particularly enjoyed Austin Hargrave, Jeremy Deptutat, Stephanie Diani and Winnie Au‘s work. They were also intrigued to hear that we can handle production as well as stock requests.
After looking through the books and learning all about Wonderful Machine, the NBC meeting wrapped and Paul met me outside the building. We breathed a sigh of relief, knowing we’d made it through all four meetings, even with the horrendous traffic. Victorious, we headed to our last stop of the day, a happy hour at The Stag’s Head.
From left: Axel Dupeux, Gil Lavi, Paul, Maria, Stephanie Diani, Tim, Annie Tritt
There, we sipped on a couple well-deserved beers with WM photographers Annie Tritt, Axel Dupeux, Gil Lavi, Stephenie Diani and her husband Tim. It was a fun time, with lots of laughs—especially from Axel and Gil, who could hack it as a comedy duo, if they ever tire of photography. Eventually, we had to call it a night since we needed to drive back to Philly. We said our goodbyes and jumped in the car to spend another hour fighting to get out of the city. I’ll tell you one thing, I’ve never been so happy to be in New Jersey in my entire life… Until next time, New York!
After our otherwise terrific trip to Toronto ended in a 20-hour delay, I was a bit hesitant to get on a plane again with Craig. But since I couldn’t convince him to take a 30-hour road trip, we once again headed to the Philadelphia airport, car loaded with portfolios. Oddly enough, check-in was smooth and quick, security was easy and our plane was on time… maybe Craig isn’t bad luck after all. After an easy flight down to Atlanta, an extremely friendly security guard asked what our plans were and if we were going to have time to take a tour of the Sweetwater Brewery. We told her probably not this trip. No problem, she says, “We got Sweetwater 420 all over Atlanta. You gotta GIT SOME!”
With a catch phrase for this trip already secured, we checked into the hotel and headed to my Alma Mater, the Savannah College of Art and Design. This was actually my first time on the Atlanta Campus, but it still felt like a little bit of a time warp—so much enthusiasm and so many piercings! We were speaking to a Business Practices for Photography class with Prof. Judith Pishnery. Judith was very excited to hear Craig’s talk on Pricing and Negotiating and my very truncated Branding presentation. Craig gave a great talk, though I’m sure it was a bit shocking for these students just how complicated it is to actually get paid for your work. Next came my thoroughly informative and possibly less intimidating presentation on branding. The students were very engaged for two and a half hours of very dense information. After Q&A we packed it up to meet up with our Atlanta shooters.
Sean presenting at SCAD Atlanta.
We drove the few blocks to a little neighborhood spot called Uncle Julio’s and found over a dozen of our photographers and their studio managers were there when we arrived, and most already seemed acquainted. We had the chance to talk with Jennifer Davick about her move from Israel to Birmingham, spoke to Leah Perry about a very promising opportunity she got through Wonderful Machine, and had a great conversation with Zack Arias about crafting a brand with distinctive facial hair. If only he and I had spoken BEFORE my talk at SCAD… but as much as we love getting to know our members better, we had to say goodnight and get our beauty sleep for the next day’s meetings!
From Left: Troy Stains, John Fulton, Jaime Hopper, Calvin Lockwood, Jennifer Davick, Sean, Leah Perry, Ryan Gibson, Audra Melton
We started our first day of meetings at Ogilvy. We arrived a little bit early and thought we could kill some time by taking a few photos for our fine blog readers. We were quickly informed that photography was not allowed on their property, by the most extraordinarily friendly security staff I have ever dealt with. We got smiles and handshakes, put away the camera and headed upstairs. It was still early, but the staff came out in big numbers, and with lots of enthusiasm. They were especially impressed with the work of Scott Suchman, John Fulton, and Christopher Shane. After handing out lots of t-shirts to a chorus of thank yous, we headed out.
Our next review was at Breen Smith, a small agency in a beautiful, historic building downtown. Under the watchful gaze of a gigantic taxidermy marlin, we had a great meeting with the art director and a member of the design team. We got to know a good bit about the company and their growing need for photographers. After our meeting and a quick tour of the awesome bank vault downstairs, the art director thanked us for coming and told us he hoped to be calling soon to work with our photographers. He actually made good on that sooner than we expected, calling the very next day to get recommendations for an upcoming shoot!
From there it was just a quick jaunt to Atlanta Magazine, where Craig had a great meeting with the photo editor. She was familiar with nearly all of our Atlanta shooters already, but got introduced to a couple of our newer members. She told us she was always on the lookout for good food photographers. Naturally we pointed her towards Jennifer Davick.
After quickly unloading at the hotel, we cruised a few short miles to the very cool studio of Calvin Lockwood, who was good enough to host our second speaking engagement in as many days. Craig offered his expert advice on pricing and negotiating to a full house of very receptive photographers. Afterwords, we hung back a while to answer questions about pricing and Wonderful Machine before thanking Calvin and the other APA organizers and retiring to the hotel before another full day.
Craig’s APA Atlanta presentation at Calvin Lockwood’s studio.
The next morning we had a meeting with two art buyers at BBDO who were already frequent WM users, but a face-to-face meeting allowed us to walk them through the newest features of the site, as well as our other client services. There were more than a few new photographers they absolutely loved including Mark Katzman, Raymond Patrick and Joseph Anthony Baker.
We stopped for lunch at a place we found completely by accident, but I couldn’t have been happier to eat at Carver’s Country Kitchen. We got our fix of Southern Cuisine—fried chicken, cornbread, lima beans, collard greens—which made me so happy to be back in Georgia! Lunch was good enough that even a flat tire on our way to the next meeting couldn’t bring us down! Well, that and the fact that our tire blew within walking distance, So Craig and I just met up in the lobby of Images USA, a marketing firm with clients like KFC, Hillshire Farm and Amtrak. There, we sat down with the creative director and production manager, who both loved Joel Collins‘ portfolio. We had a great meeting and learned a thing or two about how they use both still and video for their impressive list of clients.
We wrapped the trip up with a great group of creatives at Brunner. They loved every book we showed, but paid extra attention to John Schulz and Claire Benoist. The creative director was especially enthusiastic as we went into more detail about our many services for creatives. He strongly recommended we pay a visit to their Pittsburgh office. It was quite the successful review.
And with that last meeting, our time in Atlanta was done. With a van full of books, a fresh tire and a great portfolio event behind us, we said goodbye to the Peach State!
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.
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!
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.
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.