The Lounge Week Nine: Lindsay Siu

by Heather on April 28, 2008

The Lounge is a virtual Art Gallery, updated weekly. This space will showcase emerging or underutilized photographers; or just people who I think we all need to have a look at. A bit of Eye Candy for Monday.

Wow, Week Nine!

Truly, one of the many cool things about being nine weeks in is that I’ve amassed a nice little list of new talent I’ve found through the Blog. Lindsay Siu falls into this category- we talked to her a couple of weeks ago for her take on the trials and tribulations of the Vancouver marketplace for commercial photographers.

I was very pleased to be introduced to Lindsay’s work. Her photography has a slickness that screams Commercial. There is nothing raw about it- it is conceptualized and executed with precision. Having said this, it was tricky curating my selection for this post. Normally, there is a coherence to my choices. Because Lindsay’s strong work falls over many different genres, it is counterproductive to pigeonhole her (except as a woman photographer- more on that later). Rather, I suspect that the broadness of her work is a result of the smaller marketplace in which she is working. Out of necessity, she’s a Jackie of all trades. I’ll bet dollars to donuts that as stimulating as it must be for her to work in all these genres, it’s probably necessary for Lindsay to be diverse in order to be successful in Vancouver.

Just a theory. Now the work. The first four are from personal projects:

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She’s done music and models:

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And here is some of Lindsay’s ad work. The first is for a high-end dog collar company:

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Being one of the first women we’ve featured in the Lounge, I had to ask Lindsay a question about her gender:

Can you talk about being a woman photographer- do you see any specific hurdles for you given the big gender gap in commercial photography? Alternatively, do you see any benefits to being a woman in this industry?

It’s a funny thing being one of only a handful of female commercial shooters in Vancouver. Luckily for me, I’ve always been comfortable working with and being in the company of men. I have an older brother and was subjected to plenty of teasing, silliness and bawdy talk, so I’m fairly comfortable in that environment. I think that’s probably why I like to shoot advertising- I enjoy being around silly, humorous people all working as a group.

Honestly, the gender gap never really affected me until recently. As an assistant, I was aware of the fact that I didn’t get hired by certain shooters because they generally looked for big, burly, 20-something guys to haul gear for them (I stand tall at 5’4 ½ , no heels). I did get a lot of assisting work though- I like to think because I brought something completely different to the table- perhaps a little more organization, less awkwardness around attractive female models, and a good sense of anticipating a photographer’s needs. (In my own defense, I really could haul my own weight in gear. However, now I find myself hiring big, burly 20-something guys for my own shoots.)

One of my biggest challenges now is prepping for shoots that (some) men can do more easily than me, especially on jobs with a tight budget. Things such as building and hauling big sets and props around with fewer assistants. I’m sure my production costs may be higher due to the added support I need. Of course, I could always try to keep up by taking some woodworking classes and/or electrician training and/or steroids.

Another issue for women, already addressed in your blog, is family. I’d like to have children one day but right now I’m still fairly young so it’s the perfect time to put my head down and concentrate on work. I know that once my mid-thirties creep up, I’ll want to figure out how to balance my family life with my work life. How to be an amazing mother while not disappearing from the industry, forever. So I choose to stay positive and see that as a challenge I look forward to taking on. (Oh geez… Is my boyfriend reading this?)

There are benefits to being a woman in commercial photography. I think there’s a different vibe on a set when directed by a woman. A woman can get talent to emote differently than a male shooter can and, in an artistic sense, a woman’s sense of beauty is really different than a man’s. Even though most advertising and fashion is still dominated by the male gaze, there can be an added edginess that is unique and special when a woman’s vision cuts through the male sense of beauty.

I think there is a concern in Vancouver that you are flirting with a career in LA. What has the response been to showing your work down there?

I haven’t really spent enough time looking for work in LA. I feel like I’m just starting to gain the confidence to pimp my stuff around down there. Although things have been really positive in the meetings I’ve had, one thing I heard often was that in order to compete for work I needed to raise the level of finish to my work. Only a few shots in my book have been retouched, and even less were shot with elaborate lighting set-ups, so it can be scary to realize that you’re competing in the big show, without the same resources available at home needed to build your book. It comes down to opportunity versus risk. There can be more opportunities down there, but the risks are in taking a step backward to re-build my book, and in facing way more competition. I could go back to assisting on big, huge, elaborate shoots, working for that “big break”, or I could shoot my own stuff in Vancouver, and grow slowly but steadily. For now I’m going to enjoying shooting my own stuff, and hope that continues to work out for me up here. If not, maybe I’ll go for it down there and see what happens, so I don’t ever wonder “what if?”.

Thanks Lindsay.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Billy Kidd April 28, 2008 at 10:40 am

Great work! So true, women do bring something different to the table.

Something not touched on, that i notice in my market, is the amount of female art directors. do you think that may play a roll as well? There are more female art directors here in phoenix, AZ then men. In fact, all the publishing companies are female, and many ad agencies have maybe 1 or 2 men working in the art department.

I love the work your showing for Lindsay Siu. Keep it up!

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