Portfolio Events: October 2018
My recent trip to New York was a huge day of firsts. It was both my first time going on portfolio events, but also my first time visiting New York. Luckily, our CEO Bill was able to come along and help me get around.
Our first and second meetings were with Architectural Digest and Condé Nast Traveler, both of which are located in the new World Trade Center building. Once we had finally made our way through security, we took the elevator to the 64th floor where the meeting was to take place. This floor primarily consisted of cafes and meeting rooms, but it also had some incredible views of the city. I was able to enjoy them for a few minutes while we waited for Visual Editor Gabrielle Langdon and Assistant Visual Editor Emily Bukowski to meet us.
After a bit of conversation with Emily and Gabrielle, we discovered they tend to prefer photographers who can do great portraiture as well as solid interior and exterior architectural photography. This is because being able to thoughtfully use people in photos is really important for the magazine. We also discovered that AD is primarily focused on residential architecture and interiors, and unless it's a star architect or a commercial space with a really compelling backstory, it's unlikely that a commercial space will make the cut. Both Emily and Gabrielle were very impressed with Inge Prins's still life photos and her sense of style.
Our second meeting was with Meg Reinhardt at Condé Nast Traveler. Fortunately for us, both Condé Nast Traveler and AD are in the same building, so we didn’t need to check our bags again. We were just an elevator ride or two away.
Meg was already a huge fan of Wonderful Machine and was excited to meet with us. She had mentioned that she had even applied to work with us once a few years back. Scott Suchman, one of the photographers whose portfolios we brought with us, was already working with CN Traveler on a late night eats story for the website. She loves his work, so she was excited when we were able to give her some of his leave-behinds. She was also very interested in Natasha Lee and Natalia Weedy’s work, noting that she might be able to use them for a "Women in Photography" piece that she was working on. We also spoke with Meg about our stock photography tool, which allows editors to reach out to our photographers directly in search of images that they may already have in stock that can be licensed. Meg had never used the tool before but sounded very excited to try it out.
Our last meeting of the day was at People Magazine (strictly speaking, it’s called People Weekly, but everyone calls it People Magazine). There we met with Florence Nash, Sarah Fernando, and Sarah Burrows. Florence said that in a nutshell, "People Magazine tells stories about celebrities and real people who inspire us with their heroism or with the way they’re coping with their pain."
It was a fun opportunity for me because my mom is a huge fan of People Magazine and she was super excited when I sent her a selfie from inside their offices. It was special for Bill too, because People was one of his clients back in the early 90s. Though none of the photo editors that he worked with are still at the magazine, Bill was able to reminisce with Sarah Burrows over their shared experiences at the Eddie Adams Workshop, and Bill worked (at least once that he can remember) with Sarah’s mom Bobbi Baker Burrows, who was a well-known photo editor for Life Magazine (and for the record, Sarah’s grandfather was famed Life Magazine photographer Larry Burrows).
Florence, Sarah, and Sarah were all pretty stoked about our photographers and about Wonderful Machine in general. When I asked Sarah what other directories she uses to find photographers, she said, “There are no other photographer directories besides Wonderful Machine!”
With that, we broke out a stack of portfolios and passed them around.
We started off with Drew Anthony Smith, who Florence was familiar with, and whose style fits People really well. Tim Black was a favorite of Sarah Fernando, saying that his style might be a little edgy for most of their projects, but she could see using him for the right subject. Ackerman + Gruber were a hit (as usual). Partly, Florence said, because they love working with photographers who are equally adept at documentary coverage as well as lit portraits. And all three got a kick out of Cherry Li’s amazing set of accordion-fold portfolios.
Once we had wrapped up at People, it was time for us to collect our notes and head back to Philadelphia. We learned a lot in New York and met with some really great people, so I’m sure we’ll be back soon.