What Photo Editors Want from Photographers Now
PDN regularly interviews photo editors about how they find and evaluate new photographers, and how they match photographers and assignments. Their answers reflect how photo editors are adapting to changes in the publishing business and in reading habits. Subscribers can read the full text of these interviews, and more interviews with creatives, at pdnonline.com.
Before speaking on a 2017 PhotoPlus Expo panel titled “What Photo Editors Want Now,” Ahmed Fakhr, director of photography at RollingStone.com, explained how the publication was using photography and video, and what skills he looked for in potential contributors. “Besides great work, I think we want people who can think in a social sense. That’s big now: Someone who thinks about how their work can translate to something different on Instagram or Twitter or Facebook,” Fakhr says. “What’s really great is photographers who think of ideas for how to promote a story in a new way or how to do something different that would extend the story on social media. Whether that’s a short video clip or an animation, that could be very useful.” He says he is also on the lookout for photographers skilled in shooting video. “For our festival coverage, we are usually only able to get one photographer approved by the festival, so to have someone who can do video at the same time is great. Then we know we’re covered in terms of live performance images on the still side, and they can also capture short videos. At these festivals we’re focused on trying to do a few more Instagram Stories to bring our viewers into the festival and give them the Rolling Stone point of view.” Read the full story here.
Janet Michaud, the creative director for Politico, recently talked to PDN about the importance of design in delivering news both online and in print. She describes Politico’s mission as “high-impact journalism,” and says, “my hope is that the approach to the photography is the same, and it demands the reader’s attention across all platforms.” Looking back on the years she has spent working as art director and design director at news publications including The Boston Globe, TIME and The Washington Post, Michaud says, “I like to help [publications] better understand the power of design. It’s such a powerful communicator and is integral to the storytelling.” But it’s a challenge in today’s fast-paced news cycle, she adds. “How do we bring together graphics, photography and illustration to communicate a brand identity, so you know the brand on any platform at any time?” she asks, and responds, “It is really hard, given the flood of news and information and the number of platforms that news is being delivered on. It highlights how important the consistency of a brand’s voice is—whether that voice is through photography, or illustration, or how Twitter promos are written, or the approach to Instagram Stories. The hope is that you’re creating a visual voice and overall tone that are strong enough to communicate the brand’s journalism as it travels across platforms.” Read the full story here.
When PDN asked photo editors how they use Instagram, some said the social media platform has introduced them to new approaches or storytelling styles, while others search more purposefully to find photographers in specific locations or to track down images of certain subjects. In describing their methods, many offered advice for photographers eager for their work to get noticed and licensed. But their opinions differed, of course.
Aeriel Brown, deputy photo director of Bloomberg Businessweek, says, “It’s not enough to just post photos. You definitely have to add hashtags. You have to tell a little story about the images. And, you have to follow editors you like and like their photos too (and comment occasionally).” Brown, who has found photographers by following stylists, set designers and art directors, says, “My general mode of operating when I see someone on Instagram is to look at their feed first and then follow it up by looking at their website. I definitely don’t think that the two are interchangeable: Even if you have a great feed, you still need a website (preferably one that lists where you are located).” However Emily Keegin, photo director of The FADER, says, “With photographers starting out, I don’t think a professional website tells me much. I can often get a better sense of how a photographer thinks by scrolling through her mass of Instagram posts.” Keegin adds that Instagram is “currently the only way I spot new photographers”and “a great way to stay up to date on photographers’ projects and new work.” Read the full story here.
A few months after Adweek declared Bon Appétit the hottest food magazine of the year, we asked senior visuals editor Elizabeth Jaime how Bon Appétit’s photography distinguishes it from the competition. “We’ve always tried to commission photographers who wouldn’t ordinarily shoot food and will approach it in a way we might not have thought of,” she says. Her staff has met to discuss what the next big thing in food photography is. “Finding that is a challenge,” she says. In evaluating photographers, she says, “What I want to see is: What is their composition like? If they’re not shooting with natural light, can they light well? We’re experimenting with less natural light these days so I’m looking for interesting ways of doing studio lighting. What we’ve found is that hard flash doesn’t always work for us—sometimes food doesn’t look appealing under a harder light. So we’re looking for someone who can light in an interesting way but not in a way that makes the food look unappealing.” Click here to read the full story.
Cynics will disagree, but for some magazines, branded content seems, at its core, to be about mutual respect: Publishers respect that readers are wary of constant advertising, but they’re also asking their readers to respect the fact that they have to sell advertising to keep the lights on and produce quality stories. “One of the reasons that branded content in general has had such a profound impact on the industry, and one of the reasons it looks to stick around for the foreseeable future, is that people really do spend time with branded content if it’s done well,” says Justin Montanino, Senior Director of Branded Content for New York Media, publishers of New York magazine. Clickthrough rates are much higher for native ads than banner ads because “there’s a real story” when a reader clicks through to read sponsored content. Chas Edwards, the co-founder, president and publisher of Pop-Up Magazine Productions, which publishes California Sunday Magazine, explained that Lexus asked Pop-Up Magazine Productions to come up with a story about the combination of fuel efficiency and travel range offered by their hybrid vehicles. The team at Pop-Up created a series of sponsored travel columns. Pop-Up Magazine Productions hired photographer Erin Kunkel to document day trips from San Francisco and Los Angeles into the surrounding natural landscapes. Pop-Up Magazine Productions sold Lexus on “an inviting, beautiful story that takes our readers on a journey” that alluded to the range of the vehicles. Photos ran in print with an introduction to each journey. “Then when you went online to the digital edition of the California Sunday Magazine, it was an 18-photo essay that was the full journey,” Edwards says. Read the full story here.
In our video interview, Bloomberg Pursuits senior photo editor Leonor Mamanna discusses two photographers she’s found, and explains why they were the right photographers for the jobs she assigned. In the Q&A, she also offers advice for pitching her work. “If you are a photographer who really wants to be making beautiful portraiture, send me a couple of your favorite portraits. If you’re a photographer who is a big travel person, then send me three or four travel photos that represent who you are. But really the most important thing is for me to know where you are,” whether your location can be found on your website, promos or social media channels. To read more of her advice, see the full story.
Want more PDN? Click here to sign up for our email newsletter and get the week’s top stories delivered straight to your inbox.
Cherry Bombe‘s Claudia Wu on Her Mag’s Unique Food Imagery and Working with Photographers
Who I’ve Hired: Chloe Coleman, The Washington Post
Who I’ve Hired: Paloma Shutes, The California Sunday Magazine