Couple weeks ago I got an email from NYCphotoWorks:
I’m writing to you today to tell you about a new Manhattan based
company, headed by photgrapher Marc Asnin, that is working for
photographers. NYCPhotoWorks is a company that is designed to help
photographers on all levels become better photographers, gain
professional insight and exposure, and eventually get work. We offer
services in many different aspects of professional photography, from
consultations on personal branding to meeting face
to face with the top editors in the magazine world, to workshops taught by
NYCPhotoWorks will be hosting Portfolio Reviews in the fall that are
certain to provide photographers with unprecedented opportunity and insight.
On October 22nd-24th, NYCPhotoWorks will be hosting a Portfolio Review
event at the newly renovated Sandbox Studios in lower Manhattan that will
bring together more than sixty of the top photo editors in the business.
Participating publications include Time, People, Stern, Vanity Fair, Conde
Nast, Details, Forbes, ESPN, Fortune, Sports Illustrated, National
Geographic Adventurer, Redbook, and many more. Photographers must apply
to be accepted into the event in order to ensure quality of work. If
accepted, the photographer will be given the chance to meet with 14 photo
editors 1-on-1 over two days, plus a third day of workshops taught by the
Directors of Photography for Conde Nast Traveler, People and Redbook.
This is an unprecedented opportunity for talented photographers to
personally show their work to top photo editors and build lasting
In a world as competitive and dynamic as editorial photography it’s not
enough simply to drop off or mail in your portfolio. Meeting the editors
in person lays the foundation for a working professional relationship.
Don’t miss this chance to personally present your work to the top editors
of the magazine world. Spots fill on a first-come-first-serve basis and
you must submit your work prior to being accepted into the event.
For more information about NYCPhotoWorks please visit our website at
Thanks for your time and please feel free to contact me with any
questions. I look forward to hearing from you.
Is it me or do they go out of their way NOT to mention money?
So I apply and get taken to a very nice website with a lovely list of editors. Two weeks later, voila, I am accepted and get a login to register.
$699-599-499-399-Just like iPods, one for every size…
I’ll do the math for you, that’s roughly $45 dollars a sitting.
Ok so you say, Robert…everyone knows it is pay to play…what is your problem? This is no different from paying for LeBook or a promo piece or portfolio pages.
Well, it is different. It is like the wheel has finally come around full circle. Really? Really?
It’s not like I am not already paying out of pocket to do editorial. You know my views on that. But now I really am paying out of pocket! Have we all forgotten folks that we used to drop portfolios off at magazines and have meetings and actually sit down in conference rooms and lobbies and show work to editors for free? This was how business was conducted, the editors need to meet you to get an idea of what you were like, they needed to see prints, they wanted to form a relationship so that you could work together. It was part of their job. Some even liked it! And if it went well, it was not some cherry pick one time assignment where because you shoot waterbuffalo on painted backdrops with a ringflash in your MFA portfolio they just knew it had to be you? But after that, via con dios…
So apart from the efficiency aspect of being able to deliver 200 (? I have no idea the size of this cattle call) culled photographers to 50 editors for example-because, we really are doing them a favour-the magazines, getting their editors all on site on two days for a blitzkreig portfolio review-they are going to come away with something don’t forget-I just don’t get it. Yes, it is highly efficient to be able to see 14 editors in two days, literally, something that would take weeks or months to do conventionally-now. But do you really have a portfolio that is suitable for Business Week, ESPN, Field and Stream, Popular Mechanics, NYTimes Style, Lucky, Prevention and Redbook? Does it make any sense? So right there, out of 32 publications represented, just how many are you really suited for? And if you respond, ‘all of them’, then I think your portfolio needs some cutting…
Sure you could spend $699 every quarter and do a very nice printed Z-fold of new work and blanket all your contacts and I know that might have zero results. But this is no different. Except for the fact that it is something that used to be free, and now, or going forward, probably will not be. File this under “blame commoditization…”
On a secondary rant, part of this has to do with the myth of “personal work.” I guess now that no one is working we all have time to do “personal work.” I’m doing it as fast as I can…have you noticed yet? Perhaps someone with a little more history in the business can corroborate this, but to my recollection, this little bit of slight of hand came up in the 90′s. It was a differentiation tactic. Pure marketing. It said, “you are not just a commercial photographer.” Well I ask you, for example, when Ad agencies are looking for a TV commercial director, and they are shopping reels, do they ask-”hey, where is the personal work? Lemme see his friends half naked at the beach?” Sounds ridiculous huh?
The situation is comparable to the rise and fall of indy cinema, first as outlier, eventually as profit center, with no investment-does this sound familiar-and now as undifferentiated from the rest.
To be “truthy” there is nothing wrong with hiring a photography to do what they do if all they do is shoot to assignment (brilliantly?). You see the perversity of the logic when in the last couple of years we have seen what I would term the “exploitation” of artists in the commercial realm, being hired to reproduce on assignment what they do for themselves. Can anyone put that logic right-side in? How is it any different from hiring an assignment photographer to reproduce what they do on assignment?
If anything, I trust the assignment photographer who has had to deal with more crises on location than the photographer hired to reproduce personal work, which by definition, is work made under the circumstances of the photographers choosing.
Can you imagine asking an Avedon, a Penn, a Meisel, etc, so, where is the personal work? Like the assignment is not good enough?