A Year in the Life Project: In Which Grant Works for the Walrus and Jaime Thinks about Representation

by Heather on November 20, 2009

Grant Harder

First off, as I said last week, I really appreciate the feed back from my Week 06 post. I encourage people to revisit the post if they have anything to add to the assistant-to-photographer dialogue.

Pretty much as soon as I sent last weeks post off I received a call from Bree at The Walrus regarding an upcoming assignment for them. What timing! Needless to say I am incredibly excited about this opportunity. While I do buy and read a ridiculous amount of magazines, The Walrus is actually the only magazine I have a subscription to- heavy on great content, light on ads and published by a charitable foundation (Subscribe! Donate!). Lorne Bridgman, Eamon Mac Mahon and Christopher Wahl are three of my fav Canadian photographers and are all contributors to the publication.

But wait! Where’s that other hat?

Over the past week Hubert Kang supplied me with a few days of assisting. Talk about a young gun on the rise! He seems to be keeping quite busy in this slow economy. It’s great to see Hubert has combined forces with Nancy Grant, a Vancouver rep, at an early point in his career.

To end this off I want to show an image of mine from a couple of years ago. I grew up in Prince George, a nine-hour drive north of Vancouver. It’s not a large town, around seventy-five thousand. Because winter felt like it was 10 months of the year, the obvious activity was hockey. Ice was everywhere. I can remember ice-skating on my street. However, it wasn’t all Zambonis, ice-skates and smelly shin pads (needs to be experienced to fully appreciate). P.G. also had a roller-rink.

This is one of my favorite photos. It reminds me of holding hands and root beer floats.

Copyright Grant Harder

Copyright Grant Harder

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Jaime Hogge:

This week was pretty tame for me. I think weeks like these can be the hardest for someone just starting out and/or someone who doesn’t have their own studio to work out of. I do all of my office work, editing, everything that isn’t shooting out of my ‘office’ in my apartment. Something that I suggest other emerging shooters out there to do is to get up in the morning. Don’t sleep until noon just because you work from home and don’t have a time clock. All of the people that you need to be in touch with don’t keep those hours, so neither can you. I know it’s hard when you’re stuck in front of a computer doing menial tasks while the new Call of Duty sits on the shelf staring at you all day but that’s just how it is – at least you get to work in your underwear if you so desire.

Anyways, for the most part my week has consisted of planning stuff for next week, which looks to be shaping up nicely. I had a meeting on Monday that was rather.. interesting. Nothing really developed from it, but it has left me with a bit of a personal project to work on in the immediate future. I’m hoping that will develop into something for me and I’m eager to get going on it next week. It sort of feels like being in school again though, which might not be such a good thing.

I also got a call this week from Bri at Financial Post magazine to shoot a portrait assignment next week. I’m looking forward to that, the folks there have been awesome to work with in my previous couple assignments. It’s actually kind of neat working for FP as well because I did a photo internship with the news end of things there (National Post) a few years ago which had me traveling around with a couple of their photographers and shooting some stuff myself too.

Lastly, I shot some portraits of Cam Heaps, CEO of Toronto’s greatest possession (next to the Leafs) Steam Whistle Brewery a little while back for Report On [Small] Business magazine which came out this week. It was a fun assignment, Cam was great and I was really happy with the magazines selects, the portrait they picked was exactly the one I was planning to use in my book. I’ve always got a few favourites when I do an editorial job and probably 75% of the time they aren’t what’s selected. Do photographers typically make suggestions when they submit images? Does anyone listen to said suggestions? I don’t know anything about layout and I’m not trying to dictate a magazine or anything, just curious as to whether it’s normal to point a photo editor or an art director to an image or two.

Copyright Jaime Hogge

Copyright Jaime Hogge

Copyright Jaime Hogge

Copyright Jaime Hogge

To finish off I just wanted to bring up the topic of reps. I know Heather wrote a good article on this last year but I’d like to hear more on the topic from both sides. If you’re a photographer, how much has a rep helped you grow your business and gain new clients? How high up on your list of things to do was getting a rep before you had one, and how has your view on them changed since? I’ve seen things work out nicely and I’ve seen things not work out at all. If you’re an AB/AD or PE and you get a promo from a photographer that you’ve never heard of does it pique your interest more if they have a rep, especially one who’s name you’re familiar with? I know that ultimately the work is what will get you calling that photographer but it seems that with promo stuff half the battle is just getting your piece noticed.

A Year in the Life Project follows two junior shooters through their weekly adventures, trying to make a go of it, in the world of commercial photography.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

David November 20, 2009 at 7:30 pm

I always enjoy this feature. Thanks for sharing guys… I too am a photographer slapped with that “emerging” label, so it’s nice to hear from other people my age that are going through the same things.

To answer your questions (from my limited experience)…

As far as making suggestions to art directors, I always do. The way I handle a job is to initially do some quick mockups of my favorite shots (maybe 2 or 3, depends on the shoot.) While I’m doing that quick post-processing, I have bridge creating a web gallery of all the shots (or rather a slightly edited down selection of all the shots). I then send along an email with a link to the web gallery, as well as the 2 or 3 favorite images attached to the email. They almost always pick the ones that I like. This is also a good time to play with experimentation (say you want to push your colors in a new direction, or do some interesting crops)…

Regarding representation…

I have had a rep based out of Dallas, TX, since January of 2008. While it does hurt to have to give up a percentage of my fees almost every time I get a job, overall it has been more than worth it. While building up my business from nothing is still a long and arduous process, with her help my name has been in front of a significantly higher amount of people than if I were going alone. Additionally, having an experienced person on my side when negotiating fees, making the best possible estimates, and generally having a much more in depth knowledge of the business (I never would have guessed that all I needed to get more people to my agency portfolio showings is to just bring breakfast tacos! works every time…). Without that help, I would have pulled my hair out; going insane dealing with all of it. It just becomes simply too much for one person. With someone always watching your back, now you can focus on making images and honing your style.

Also, I do think having representation helps in getting someone to look at your work more seriously (whether that’s fair or not). For example, at least for myself, when I see someone’s site that says they are represented, I look a little closer. Don’t you?

Christine McAvoy November 22, 2009 at 12:37 am

RE: Do photographers typically make suggestions when they submit images?

It’s not my job to choose the photos, but I wish it was!
I find it depends on the assignment and direction of the shoot. If I get the “shoot the hell out of it” instructions, I’ll mention a few favourites, but my interning at magazine experiences tell me, it’s what fits with the layout that gets chosen. ESPECIALLY busy layouts:
http://mcavoy.ca/blog/uploaded_images/october09-p77-web-790913.jpg (mine are the popsicle and the ‘za)
I shot 101 Things to Eat for VanMag again this year and as opposed to last year (when I shot it all on white), these images were cropped, rotated and shrunk to make the layout legible. I think Taryn did an excellent job, esp. as I thought she was crazy to get 101 pictures in with different backgrounds.

I don’t think there is harm in saying: this one is my favourite and why, but there’s no guarantee that it’s the photo that is going to work best.

Bree November 23, 2009 at 1:26 pm

Suggestions and indication of artist favorites are very very kosher at all magazines i’ve been a part of. From flagging best shots on a contact sheet to submitting in form of an A and B list of images shot digitally. What proper collaborator from the inside of a publication would not want to know what the shooter is partial to?

From my end as an editor, certainly something has been lost in the move away from contact sheets insofar that the process of how the shoot transpired is now tougher to discern. The way a photographer works used to be ‘all there’. Contact sheets were like a gene profile.

Having a sense of what works according to the photographer i’ve hired offers insight into how they will be / or won’t be applied in the future. ‘Delivery style’ is very important and of course partners with issues of timing and attention to detail and yes can make or break a relationship. For example: the dude we funded a rather elaborate shoot with only to be offered 1 frame – um.. to pick from?
He does not work with us any longer.
In short i felt like a gun had been put to my head and yes there was panic. bastard!…. i’m just thinking about that again know… it was NOT a pretty couple days.
It was however the problem-child born of having a working agreement based on trust (read: not binding)

So while favorites are important to promote to your clients don’t die on your sword. Though splashy and exciting when on the shelves do remember: print lines bird-cages.

That said it is important to not submit work you are devastated by. Y’know the one or few you think really suck. Don’t submit those cos you know that there’s always a chance – specially if you believe the publication to have a long line of command – that that select could be the one that goes through

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