Portfolio events are one of the best parts of my job, so it was with a smile that I set out for New York City last Thursday with Kayleen Kauffman. Arriving in Manhattan early, we had plenty of time to figure out how to turn left in a city filled with “no turns” signs. Once we finally found our way—breaking a few traffic laws, I’m sure—we parked and unloaded, ready for our first meeting at the home improvement magazine, This Old House.
Inside Time Inc.’s building, security escorted us to Denise Sfraga’s door. Denise, TOH’s director of photography, apparently disagreed with security’s thoughts on our suspiciousness and cheerfully invited us into her office with associate photo editor Allison Chin. Sitting on Denise’s cozy couch, we discussed This Old House’s photography needs while reviewing portfolios. They both had great things to say about Wonderful Machine, and genuinely enjoyed the books. Favorites included Boston-based Trent Bell and Portland, OR’s Lincoln Barbour.
Denise and Allison also shared insight into TOH’s photo department, saying they’re currently inundated with emailers (most are inappropriate for the magazine) and that they use about 50% stock and 50% assignment in each issue. They also rarely look at print portfolios anymore, preferring to review websites—but enjoyed our meeting with “real” portfolios for a change of pace. Actually, Denise added that she was pleasantly surprised to see us bringing so many books, as she was expecting just an iPad. The printed books of Morgan Howarth, Casey Dunn and Mark Weinberg were particularly impressive to them.
After all the portfolios had been reviewed, Kayleen and I said goodbye and headed down a couple floors to Essence— an African American women’s magazine featuring a nice mix of celebrity, lifestyle and fashion photography. Once again escorted by security, we met up with photo editor Tracey Woods. Tracey led us to a conference room where we laid out a dozen portfolios. Soon several Essence creatives were circling the table and flipping pages. Harold Daniels‘ work was instantly recognized since he’s shot for them before. They loved his new work, calling many of his photographs beautiful. One creative added how much she loves printed portfolios, pointing to Robert Gallagher‘s elegantly printed book as an example, saying “You just can’t beat this.” Other favorites included Annie Tritt‘s portraits, Austin Hargrave‘s celebrity shots and Bobby Bruderle‘s overall style. Tracey also said that she uses the Wonderful Machine site often.
After leaving Essence, we headed off to lunch. Luckily, Time Inc. is situated across from a covered pavilion with plenty of benches and a Europa Cafe. At Europa, Kayleen and I ordered chopped salads before grabbing a prime people-watching bench.
Once finished with our salads (delicious!), we prepared for our final review at Time Inc. Content Solutions. We were lucky enough to have all of our meetings in one building, but the desk attendant wouldn’t allow us to use their parking lot elevator (darn hand truck)—meaning we had to push 100 pounds of books up a steep ramp (on the bright side, we got some exercise.) After sweating our way back into the building, we found our contact, Denise Bosco. Denise then introduced us to Photo Assistant Mike Lawrence. Mike was great; he looked through a ton of books and spoke extensively about Time Inc.’s photo needs. He was particularly interested in bold still life photography for Proto Magazine and fresh lifestyle work for their other publications. Mike was “fascinated” by the work of our retoucher, Janko Williams. Denise also looked through books and asked questions about Wonderful Machine. Eventually, we realized our quick review had turned into an almost two hour affair!
Once we’d packed the books and said goodbye, it was just enough time to scurry over to Heartland Brew Pub for drinks with several of our New York photographers. We grabbed a table just as life-of-the-party/photographer Tim Soter showed up. Tim kept the laughs coming as we drank delicious brews and snacked on mozzarella sticks and fried pickles (OK, I’ll admit, I ate all the pickles). Soon after ordering, Jodi Jones and Mark Weinberg arrived, adding even more fun and flavor to the night.
For about three hours we chatted about fried foods, photography, cats, and the pain of New York photo permits. We also learned that Tim once heroically saved an entire bus of people (ask him about it!); that Jodi has a new coffee table book coming out (ask her about it!); and that Mark literally just ran over from an exciting new shoot (can’t talk about it!). Unfortunately though, Kayleen and I had to leave as we had a long drive ahead of us. We hugged it out before heading back to the car, another successful day under our belts.
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