by Maria Luci
“This ain’t no disco. It ain’t no country club either. This is LA!” I couldn’t get Sheryl Crow’s voice out of my head as Ben, and I flew from freezing Philadelphia out to sunny Los Angeles, California. I was excited to thaw out my frostbitten hands, go outside without five layers on, and show a ton of books to prospective clients. During the past few months, I had put a lot of effort into putting this trip together. (Note to self: don’t try to schedule meetings during the holidays.) I was very excited to finally get over there and to meet some new West Coast clientele.
As soon as Ben and I debarked the plane and collected our 150 pounds worth of portfolios (actually 157, but don’t tell the airline), we made our way to The Cat & Fiddle Restaurant & Pub to meet up with our Los Angeles photographers for a happy hour.
At The Cat and Fiddle, from left: Tony Garcia, Rush Varela, Felipe Dupouy, Tamar Levine, Natalie Young
Ben and I had a great time meeting with a large group of our LA photogs. We spoke about everything from iPad portfolios to the worst celebrities to photograph, to the best Mexican food in LA. (Ben and I are big Mexican food junkies, at least on these review trips.) Kevin Steele told us a bit about his surfing hobby, Roger Snider showed off the portfolio Sean had put together, and Tamar Levine told us about her past days at the Art Center. It was great to meet everyone in person, so much so that we ended up staying an extra hour. Normally, we would stay much longer at a happy hour, but Ben and I were ready for some rest. We finally said our goodbyes, grabbed some fast food, and passed out at the hotel.
We awoke refreshed and ready for our first Los Angeles meetings. After a giant breakfast, we started the day in El Segundo for a review at Team One, a division of Saatchi & Saatchi. Some of their clients include Lexus, Belkin, American Express, and The Ritz-Carlton. The turnout at Team One was great, with about 15-20 creatives looking through all the books. We even got to meet some of the creatives we’d made connections with through our past marketing endeavors.
Maria speaks with a creative at Team One
We heard a lot of positive reactions as the Team One group looked through the portfolios. They gushed over Tamar Levine’s book and said it was “really cool!” They also appreciated Terry Vine’s work, and his leave behind got one creative very excited! Michael Khachadoorian’s book caught the eye of one creative, who remembered seeing one of his images in his Christmas mailer. (By the way, Michael let me know when I got back that he saw a huge spike in website traffic the day of this meeting.) Roger Snider’s big rig portfolio got a few “wows,” and Nick Nacca’s takeaway portfolio was a crowd pleaser.
After about an hour, the creatives slowly shuffled out, and we ended our last conversations and packed up our things. The Team One meeting ended on a strong note and gave us some positive California vibes. We happily headed back to the Los Angeles downtown area for our meetings with Entertainment Weekly and People Magazine.
Since People and EW’s offices are on the same floor of the same building, we decided to consolidate our time and have a joint review. This ended up being a very fun, very laid-back review, and we sat around a table with one photo editor from People and another from Entertainment Weekly, showing books and talking about the business.
Entertainment Weekly was looking for a realistic portraiture photographer, preferably one who had worked with celebrities before, while People was more flexible. At first, they seemed overwhelmed with the number of books we’d brought but then kept asking to see more and more.
They both noted that they knew and liked our LA celebrity photographers, Larsen & Talbert, and had worked with them before. The People photo editor mentioned liking Gary Copeland’s style, while EW’s editor liked Robert Gallagher’s work.
Fourteen books and a little celebrity gossip later, we headed for our final review of the day, back in El Segundo at Ignited.
Ben carefully reviews a portfolio before entering the meeting
Ignited is a marketing innovations agency whose clients include Princess Cruises, NBC Universal, Sony VAIO, and more. Thinking we were late, we rushed our way from LA to El Segundo only to get to Ignited’s office early. However, this ended up being a treat for us, as we chatted for over half an hour with two very friendly Ignited creatives. We also got to take some fun pictures around the office and learn about the LA roller derby scene.
Creatives at Ignited immersed in portfolios
Once the meeting got started, creatives started pouring in. They started gushing over King Lawrence’s book (his paper! his processing!) and Tamar Levine’s style. They also loved Jesse Riesser’s book and Becky Hill’s laid-back shots. Leave behinds were going left and right, and we had fun talking about what Wonderful Machine is all about.
About an hour later, we packed up our things and filled up our trendy Kia minivan, and headed to a Mexican restaurant to try and elude some rush hour traffic. Ben and I relaxed over some chips and salsa before beginning our drive down to San Diego to show some more portfolios.
Keep reading our post on San Diego and another on our return to LA!