Photographer Seth Lowe is a people person–you can tell by looking through his work. He shines when he meets new faces to add to his portfolio. I recently had the pleasure of working with Seth editing his lifestyle and portrait galleries on his website. Located just outside of Chicago in Peoria, Illinois, he’s a young guy who hasn’t been shooting as long as others, but already has quite a bit of work under his belt. Part of the goal for this edit was not only to highlight his strengths as a photographer, but also to beef up the areas in which he hopes to produce more work. For Seth, this was lifestyle and kids. With that in mind, I wanted to create a gallery that had a balance of both areas and would lay the foundation for future growth and additional images.
Seth’s gallery opened with a winter series that could warm anyone up to the idea of cold weather. For lifestyle portfolios, it’s important to showcase the ability to shoot a series that creates a narrative, so starting off with this story was an easy choice:
One of Seth’s goals was not only to expand his lifestyle work, but his kids work as well. While he didn’t have an extensive library to pull from, the images he did have were strong. I decided to end the gallery on a lighthearted note with these images:
Seth’s success as a photographer specializing in portraiture can be attributed to the fact that he is able to find a story within his subjects that gives us a look at who they are as people. He also has a great eye for color and composition, which are running themes in his collection that tie each image to the next.
As is true for many photographers, Seth’s work has given him the opportunity to meet a lot of different characters and reveal those personalities with his camera. Showing the quirks of an individual through portraiture is the fun, albeit challenging aspect of the job.
One way that Seth creates an interesting narrative is by complimenting the subject with it’s environment. However, he also shoots more traditional studio portraiture as well. The challenge of compiling this gallery was integrating these two different styles into one cohesive, seamless sequence.
Last week, Jess and Ben headed west to Chicago, where they packed four portfolio events and a few other stops into two very busy days. Their first destination was the quaint Chicago suburb of West Dundee, where they presented our photographers’ books at the boutique graphic design firm SamataMason.
SamataMason has recently expanded into a full-service creative shop, working on branding, case studies and identity assessments for their clients, who include Chiquita, Motorola and Prudential Insurance. Jess and Ben met with two of their principals (above).
As they were poring over the books, the conversation turned to how SamataMason chooses photographers, since they are deluged with dozens of mailers every day. Not surprisingly, the only mailers that they keep are the ones that they consider unique. As an example of a leave-behind that avoided the circular file, they specifically mentioned Terry Vine’s promotional piece.
Next stop was the McDonald’s headquarters, where Jess and Ben met with the Photography Supervisor, who hires photographers for the company’s corporate communications. She had specifically asked Wonderful Machine to bring along lifestyle work, and before she even looked at a book, they spent some time discussing how McDonald’s hires photographers and uses images.
The entire corporation has access to a networked library of images from their shoots. These images are labeled with the licensing terms, but since there are so many people pulling these images, they prefer to work with photographers who will license images forever; this way, they don’t have to worry about images being used after the licensing term has ended.
The Photography Supervisor then carefully reviewed the twenty books we had selected for her, and she gravitated towards the photographers with good story-telling ability. She tends to avoid giving too much direction, and instead encourages photographers to be spontaneous and have fun with the shoot. McDonald’s is trying to get away from perfectly posed images of models biting into a freshly-styled Big Mac, and is moving towards using “real people.” In fact, in shoots now taking place at McDonald’s restaurants across the country, they often ask diners on the spot if they wouldn’t mind having their picture taken.
Chicago photographer Eric Klein’s lifestyle book received rave reviews at McDonald’s:
That evening, our envoy stopped by Saverio Truglia’s studio on the way into the city to pick up his portfolio for the next days’ meetings. Saverio was in the middle of a casting call, so Jess and Ben just followed the line of thin twenty-somethings and ended up at Saverio’s door. Our team wasn’t able to stick around for the go-see, but we were told Ben had perfect hair for the job. (From left: Jess, Saverio and Saverio’s studio manager Annika).
Later Jess and Ben met with a few of our Chicago-based photographers at a the Plymouth Restaurant and Bar in the South Loop. With fans and mist keeping them cool on a 90 degree evening, the photographers traded stories about their experiences with clients and their opinions on the direction that the industry is taking. While Chicago has seen the effects of the recession and the changing landscape of the editorial market, there is still a lot of work out there and our photographers are keeping busy. (From left: Ben, Becky Hill, Scott Bell, Eric Klein, Peter Hoffman.)
On Wednesday morning, our intrepid travelers slogged their way through a torrential downpour and arrived at the shared offices of Arc Worldwide and Leo Burnett. After taking a minute to dry off, they set up for one of the biggest reviews we’ve ever coordinated with these two very large and very prestigious ad agencies. Jess and Ben met with nearly 40 different creatives from both companies over the course of the two-hour review.
Arc and Leo Burnett handle some of the most recognizable brands in the world, including Kellogg’s, Coke and McDonald’s. The creatives were very interested in a number of our photographers for projects they were currently working on. Like McDonald’s, several creatives talked about the fact that they were searching for less perfectly styled images and more “real, gritty” shots, in this case of food. They affectionately referred to this type of food photography as “food porn.”
Our Director of Photography Sean Stone recently helped Leo Gong create his new portfolio, which got quite a bit of attention at Arc Worldwide:
Matthew Gilson, one of our Chicago lifestyle photographers, caught the eyes of a number of creatives with his book:
Alternately, the creatives who were working on the Coke Zero campaign were looking for lifestyle and portraiture that looked very produced and featured high-key lighting. Despite the considerable number of creatives in the room, Jess and Ben still had plenty of time to chat one-on-one with a few of them about their needs when looking for great photography, and they discussed ways that Wonderful Machine could make the process easier and more productive. In the end, the creatives flipped through each book dozens of times, and they had all assembled their own individual piles of leave-behinds to take back to their desks.
After a quick lunch, Ben and Jess pushed their hand truck, stacked with books, about seven blocks eastwards to Element 79 Partners. Element 79 is an ad agency that focuses on creating a “deeper” brand experience and strives to create “raving fans” for their clients.
The review went very well. About 20 very friendly creatives took a tour of our photographers’ work. Many were specifically looking for lifestyle photography, and others were looking for photographers who showed people with food. One creative director in particular spent about ten minutes looking through the books and writing down names, and then another ten minutes on our website in search of photographers who shoot people with food.
Jess and Ben left Element 79, after making some strong connections, and wrapped up an intense two days with a trip to Gino’s East for some well-deserved Chicago deep-dish pizza before catching a late flight back to Philly.
Hasselblad just chose Chicago photographer Saverio Truglia to test out their new H4D-40 camera, post the images and blog about it on their site for the month of May. Apparently the camera got delayed by the Icelandic ash cloud (“really, the Volcano ate my homework”), but he now has it and you can see what’s on his mind on their Chicago blog.
Now why should you care what Saverio has to think? If you ask, then you may not have seen his humorous conceptual work yet. Not to mention his thoughtful approach to his work and art, as described in a recent interview on the informative The FStop blog (it’s worth checking out the other photographers who they interview, as well).
A few of Saverio’s images that I’ve enjoyed recently:
We’re fresh on the heels from a New York portfolio visit with Publicis, Esquire and Marie Claire. Philadelphia (where we’re headquartered) is actually close enough that we can easily do a long day and come back in time for dinner – though we usually stay for drinks with clients or photographers.
Our photo editor Sean and producer Amanda (4th from right below) showed about 20 books at Publicis New York, known for their CITI, Pepto Bismol, Vick’s and other P&G print ads, not to mention a host of tv work. Unusual for our typical portfolio breakfasts, we got to use their pool table (though no games broke out, unfortunately).
We met about 25 creatives, and here’s a sampling of portfolios that stood out to them. Starting with Saverio Truglia in Chicago:
An art buyer mentioned that she likes seeing an “index page” of tearsheets at the back of portfolios, just before serendipitously finding exactly that at the back of Brian Kuhlmann‘s book:
Other art buyers emphasized how Proctor & Gamble likes to work with very bright and clean images, both still life and lifestyle.
After a quick lunch, the afternoon presented us with embassy-esque security at the Hearst Building on 57th St. After braving the freight elevator and getting a glimpse of the basement, we finally made it to Esquire and met with one of their photo coordinators for a great in-depth conversation.
She explained that they tend to look for strong conceptual still-life work, and interesting environmental portraiture. She was excited about their Augmented Reality issue a few months ago, and we talked about how with our Multimedia page we’re now marketing our photographers who are doing motion and directing work outside of still photography. She had no particular pet peeves when it comes to portfolios, but she did emphasize how important it is to have a tight edit: “I’d rather see a thin little book with great work!”
Onwards (and upwards: literally, they’re in the same building upstairs), we dropped-by Marie Claire and felt like we’d just stepped into The Devil Wears Prada. We met with one of their photo editors, who explained how their “What I Like About Me” is a great fit for Wonderful Machine photographers since they shoot all over the country. “I think a lot of your photographers have an aesthetic that would work well with us,” she said.
She particularly liked Alexa Miller’s work, who is based in Salt Lake City: “She really conveys a positive, happy attitude with her work, and that fits well with a lot of our content.” Judge for yourself:
And we ended our day with a celebrity sighting of Puff Daddy/P. Diddy, so what more can you ask for?
Adventure seeking, fun-loving photographer who "grew up between sunny southern California and
Virginia." Loves to shoot her friends and travels as well as immersing herself in personal projects
when not shooting for clients. Featured in the blog Camera Luv back in the spring.
Fell in love with art in high school. Started carrying a camera every day. Luckily, his father worked
for Eastman Kodak in Tokyo (so he was never short of film). Moved to NYC in the 80′s. Opened a
studio in Tribeca. Still goes back to Japan each summer with his family to shoot personal work.
Always knew he wasn’t going to be a 9-5 guy. Loves getting off planes and being bombarded with
sights and sounds that take you out of your comfort zone. Thinks "unannounced moments often
make for the best photos." Todd keeps busy in his free time by playing tennis and camping.
Has offices in Cagliari, Milan, and Los Angeles. Speaks three languages. Splits his time between shooting commercial lifestyle/travel work and industrial/technology work. Recently published two coffee table books on his travel and industrial photos. Lives with his wife and two children in Italy.