Redefining the Client and Other Pivotal Projects
What is the client cindy? I think you haven't actually you've been avoiding answering um anybody that you are gonna work with whether it be volunteer paid anything like that if they come and talk to you about doing photography than that your client that's that's good that's actually more expansive definition unexpected and that's really it's very good. I mean, basically I grew with all of that how I define a client is basically all those things but the person organization, association of venue they can give you something of tangible value, so if we're going to discuss volunteering what's the tangible value okay um they can give you something tent about in return for performing your photography service that's the sort of obvious one, but they can also give you something intangible value, for example by publishing your work again in this third party validation, getting your work published tells everybody else if you promoted to them that somebody else anointed you okay and then also exhi...
biting or disseminating that work in a way that adds value to your career life those or what I define his clients, you're correct, but I'm trying to get you to find it more broadly. This is one of the important lessons, and one of your takeaways will be to actually sit there and think about who your other clients beyond these sort of obvious ones who are maybe initially paying you, for example, gwen for an assignment. But there are other people who could maybe help you in other ways. Okay, so that's, what? How I'm defining client? All right again, I'm going to struggle back and repeat myself. But you, the object of the game is to differentiate yourself from the masses. So the clients confined you connect to you and hire you your clients see that exact same process turned that process around as it's. A way for them to find who's the best person they look at his exact same process, and they say, okay, that's helping me figure out who's the best person it's a two way street, you give the clients a better way to explain to others be it their peers or supervisor of why they hired you. This is really important. I've got a project I wanna hire photographer I've got explain to myself, but frankly, oftentimes especially on my end have to explain to somebody higher up in the hierarchy. Why did I hire lorenzo? And I can say, well, we're learning so I had this third party validation. He was curated by that organization he's done this and that that's all the stuff that gives value, and it gives them frankly, a way of explained to the next people up hey, you're different in yourself based on the added value of your talent, your personality and your uniqueness to the project. Okay, you are not your your your personal projects adds value toe wire in the yacht to why you're being used in the eyes of the client. So you're competing based on expertise on added value on the things that they can only get from you, you're not competing on price. I watched the number of creative live presentations in the last few months and everybody gets up here and say the same thing and they're all right. If you compete on price, you'll never win, you wantto get them away from thinking about price, and you want to get them thinking this person could do something that I can't get anywhere else. They've been validated or curated by somebody else so they could do what I want and that's why you want to be hired, not just based on price, so you need to again to reinforce us, you need to create work that shows what you can do, you need to create a great work that shows what you care about. And as we go on, I'm going to start picking y'all to tell me a little more about your background and what you bring that's unique to the process you need to create work that shows you're the best person for the job and you need to create work that you can keep putting in front of your clients to be without looking like a sales pitch that's what's so great about all this other stuff I still get to put all the projects I'm doing in the foreclosure stuff or the current work I'm doing in india in front of clients to be without saying hire me higher they understand that's what I'm saying but it's more interesting than just hire me hire me so you really want to be able to create that visibility and get the work in front of them and you need to create work that you continue to share with them to remind him of who you are what you khun dio you need to create work that your clients to be we'll look forward to remember I said people actually say to me oh yes oh what do you up to what are you doing? You need to create work so they're impressed with and they share it with their peers same thing that third party validation if a photo editor sends your stuff to some other photo editor you've just gone up this high and that's that's what we're trying to do I need to create works of six in their minds they look forward to meeting you this is another thing tell me people and they feel like they know me already because they see in the projects that I'm doing so again the whole thing this is about creating work all right? Your photo essay your personal project so the personal project of the photo essays said is a key and again I'm going to keep using those terms interchangeably so I'm gonna show you some sample projects right now these are not mine I do that partly because I don't want you to think I'm the only person who has this argument I'm gonna take you through some other people's work but also if you have something you're not convinced about if you don't buy my argument if there's a question you have I'm happy to have that discussion as well sometimes I think people feel more comfortable talking about work that's not necessarily mine all right so the question saying this before us ask yourself when you look at the work and I hope you've written this down right now do these projects that I'm showing you try out an idea from a point of view do they communicate an idea with minimal explanation? There will be some explanation do they work as a linear or portfolio style photo essay and that's what this is really something toe obsess about what you want to quickly be able to look at a body of work and differentiate between the two do they tell you something about the author's expertise, passion, skill set and last the show you work that you would be interested in knowing more about so I'm gonna introduce you to work now brandon thie bodo he's a photographer actually from texas is a project called when morning comes and if you're interested looking further, the links actually are there and one of the things to be doing I'm going to throw out a lot of photographers names over the next few days and it's really important that if you can write those down, go look at those because I'm going to be suggesting because they may speak to a problem you have they may speak to a success that you can echo they may speak to something that somebody's already done, so you kind of don't want to do the same thing and I saw brandon's work action to something and actually out of portland, oregon um too organization called photo lucida and I loved it I found it very atmospheric I love the square format I'm going to talk a lot about format over the next few days format choices enormously important, it changes the viewers experience typically a landscape is horizontal. I know you know that but a square format by definition is what's described as meditative because both sides are equal it's a very different experience for the viewer to see something like this square or this as versus a horizontal or vertical and I loved the way he uses the frame that limited focus a couple simple elements to me what's one things interesting, some of the photographs are more atmospheric like this some of them are more information like the previous ones, and together they give you a sense of the atmosphere in the place I wrote brandon and I told him that I was doing this class and I said because I have seen his stuff on the web and I saw on award that he won from pg in which you'll see your death a second was in pt and photo the day, and I saw the work and I wrote him and I asked him basically the question that I'm talking about here about the promotional value of that project, and he wrote me back this and it's a little bit long, but I strongly encourage you to spend a minute to read it because he's basically somebody I only know professional because of the web, I've never actually met him and he's saying what I'm trying to get you understand it's the goal of any freelancer to make the transition from being hired because your local unavailable to being hired because of your personal vision aligns with the clients goal that's what we want to do and he goes on since having begun my medium format work in mississippi, I've noticed a shift in the demand for that style of shooting one example would be the financial times magazine out of london and nearly every assignment for them has been medium format or hybrid, with more traditional rep. Atash. Our first assignment together in two thousand, won, was to document the way the fbi see the federal deposit insurance corporation, which supervises banks, goes about auctioning off failed banks, my enter at the time called because she wanted to siri's of black and white portrait ce of certain key players in the style of my missus. If you work like that to me, that when he wrote me this, I said, yeah, that's, that's the point, um, it was a dream assignment for me, mainly because here was another two calling me not because I was chief in local, but because of me who I am and how I see right that's. And so this is the work which was too serious. And portrait's and some documentary of the process of, um, the fbi see winding down, failed community banks, and you can see where these photos came out of that other set of photos. And so again, it's, brandon thibodeau encourage you to look at the work. It's, it's, very has a very mean sort of a strong point of view, a lot of personal authorship and does a mix of a lot of local work as he was saying where he gets paid to do stuff in this area because he's local and sheep in a lot of publications no longer pay for travel, but he also does this kind of stuff it's more specialized and that's what we're aspiring to this is some other work from some other people I know this actually is a friend of mine, but you can still say whatever you want about the work it's the story on musicians in the subway in new york city and this isn't as directed as say, the brand and thibodeau stuff is in terms of trying to get publication of work it's actually been maurine the exhibition and book publication work market but it's still the same idea of doing work about music which is something our friend tom cares about immensely and also giving the viewer the audience a sense of all the things that the photographer brings and I always loved this one because to me it's reversing the gays we used to see the musician but in fact it's turning it around and so it's one of my favorite photos of tom's you should be mentally or otherwise going over that checklist point of view do you come away looking at this work thinking this person could do a certain thing if I needed him to do it? What he cares about what his passions are that's why I'm showing it to you, and then the exercise you want to be doing is thinking those things out of possibly even writing them down and then going forward, you want to be using those same analytical skills to a look at other people's work and then be start thinking about okay, so how am I going to structure my own work to do that same again? Tom bo is shot, and the website is simply tom bo shot dot com in the third project that I'm going to show you is, uh, also friends project and it's on the age being the age of seven and it's also done in square and actual save most of the explanation because tina, whose work this is wrote a very nice statement, and we're going to talk a lot over the next few days about project proposal, writing and statement writing and you think to yourself, oh, I'm a photographer I don't need to write, unfortunately, that's exactly not true, most of what I call the anointing and the people who going to select you are going to be selecting you as much based on the photos as they are by the writing and so writing about your photographs explaining your work to perfect strangers, unfortunately is a huge part of our job, so these are all different seven year olds there in tina's circle and tina struggle of seven year olds is shaped by her own seven year old his name is eli and eli I'll show here in just a minute no I love about a lot of these like this one is that they're a little bit open ended I mean there's something about the kid being very seven year old but the same time there's sort of like this and then there's another whom in the expression and so team has been experimenting with both black and white and color and later on we'll be talking about the choice of formats very very important choice both the square format and also the color versus black and white format because and you can see the color and black and white give the viewer different experience when you put them together you're telling the viewer experience to this and that experience that and so that becomes another one of the intentional choices this is one of my favorites has a set because there's so much change between the two images not just in the media but also in the how the young girl presents herself and different formats work well for different storytelling and we'll go over that more later it's going to be one of the questions I'm eventually going to be asking each one of you's the portfolio versus linear the square versus rectangular vertical or horizontal um black and white versus color this is eli and this is also eli and to go back to when you have to answer me that question what's the format color versus black, white, all those other things saying things like, I've always been doing black and white that's not an answer as you saw here, we'll talk about it more as time goes on, what that media is the view of the experience takes away how the how their experience of the image is shaped by the color of the black and white the square. Those are reasons to use a given choice given media again it's a little bit long, but um, I strongly encourage you to read this in later on in the class and in the bonus material there are actually a whole bunch of written project proposals. The art of writing about photographs and writing about your project is enormously important. Um seven year olds are full of charming are full of charming, graceful ambiguity. The older child overlays the innocence of the younger and then I won't go through every bit of it. But if your reason it's both children the thing about the larger context many children seven is the age of reason under common law, so now she's wisely moved it from just this is went to seven year olds, so this is a larger story about age of seven as a transition point um seven year olds become responsible for their actions seven signifies a transition across different cultures all of this stuff makes it more than just these are my pictures of seven year old they become this is why this is important to you and that's what we're always trying to do in all our projects are saying the reason you want to pay attention is this this and this um this is something that tina wrote about the project as well talking about where her work fits in the context of other photography out there it's not posed portraiture it's not the kids sometimes they're presenting themselves but it's sort of dialogue between the photographer and the kid to create the final image all of this stuff so after you look at the images and after you read the statements you probably save yourself yeah I want to spend more time with this work and that's always our gold he always want the end user to say yeah I'm interested in spending more time with this work this person could do job I have this person could end up being having this work exhibited it center and that's the goal in all cases so project is called seventeen and try for us and that just her website is the same name so again circling back to our question did that each one of those projects try out an idea from the personal point of view did each one of those projects communicate an idea with minimal explanation and each one of those projects where they linear portfolio I think we can answer all of those were actually portfolios did they tell you something about the authors? Expertise, passion and skill set okay and I think in all this case and it's a reason to put him up there each one of them made you say oh yeah brandon in the beginning he has a very clear skill set for a certain set of things tom with the musicians is a passion and skill seven is completely different and tina with last stuff yes it's about her son but it's actually about this age and this experience in her way of interpreting that and so it fits in all those categories and to me personally um I would like to see more of that so that's the last question does the work is meet lead you to be interested in knowing more about it and so most you shaking your heads the most you're writing the the girls down so that means it was probably doing close to what we wanted. All right, jim dear I just want to mention to the folks out on the interwebs that were along with a lot of the great bonus materials that were gonna be giving away but your keynotes we're gonna take down the note's part of the keynotes and also make those available. So if you folks are out there scribbling and writing fast, you will get all these notes with the purchase of class, including these great girls. All right, please. Thank you. So now I'm gonna put you back on the spot here, okay? Pick one of those projects. It doesn't matter which and just tell me that the answers to those doesn't have be always questions, but I'm trying to make sure that you're still awake, which you seem to be and at least some or all of that is sinking in because the first trick with this and you know, this is to look at other people's work, and then the second trick will be to, of course, apply it as you're going forward. Just, for example, cannon was up here with jim erred and she's talking about the work or work in cuba. Um and so there's a photographer named ernesto bazan. Well, I don't know if kenna who's somewhere out there knows oh, but can I'm hoping is writing down the name and s o bazan and gonna go look at his work? And I mentioned that because in my world, he's, somebody who's well known is the photographer of cuba, and so a lot of people who might be looking at her work in the business in the in the in the business to business round, which is the rome ideal with probably know of ernesto's work. And so when they see her work, they're gonna kind of frame it by that so that's, one of the reasons that I'm always talking about looking at other people's work out there. So you guys, you all are on that I just showed you did anyone? Yeah, I like the the subway cats can make a kind of played on because when I first saw my subway, cash was going to be looking for a bunch of cats in the subway. But it kind of went through, like, oh, these musicians that they used to call cats back in the day and then but, you know, you knew it was about the musicians, but then you were looking at the people who actually looking at a time at the musicians themselves, so I was just kind of tongue twister, but b a I mean, it came across as far as, like the point of view, just saying, hey, you know, we understand it, we're spending it, but this is where came costume they were spending it so you actually, you know, the musicians out there, but we want to give you the people who actually paying attention to the musicians and the other thing and you caught on right away and you've probably seen in all of these naming is really important we'll talk about naming your projects, the elevator pitch, all that stuff and subway cats does exactly that first that throws you off, then you get it and then it makes a lot more sense exactly great the same one he being a musician through high school and everything playing clarinet, playing sax, you ifyou've played any of those instrument you get into it, he got into it with the fact of hearing the music through the pictures and everything. I would love to see some more of this. Well, you got the girl but it's also nice here, it's always interesting to hear which resonate with each person based on like you're back on this apart. I didn't know you could I'm gonna go seven, ok? Because I have kids three of them and I could totally right relate to the differences of you know that each child in there how different they are in the way she's captured him, right? But the one thing and what I like about that work and I'm a parent too, but she's done one of those important hurdles of making and not just about her kids, but about child yes, and remember that I keep doing this gesture of the million larger it's a child is like one of those it's always gonna be there right top ten millions if you can come at childhood in a way that will keep people thinking they can connect to automatically then they could go back and say ok then then you're starting toe work successfully exactly good I had I also had thoughts of all of them but the seven there was some things I really liked and things that bothered me so I wanted to ask you about that as well which it's portraiture and I do I I thought it captured the seven year old yes and that's what they look like and I love that about it but it's a portrait photographer I had a hard time because from a photography standpoint a lot of things bothered me and the images so that's because that's me so I don't know when you're doing these projects is that reflect you you have to reflect what you think about what you see um you know I guess it's hard for me to look past some of the issues with a technical I suppose well one of the things no e I don't want to because I just I mean it's not a bad photography I'm just saying it's just there's issues that I find and I see it right through the pictures one of one of the things that he goes to almost every project and it's interesting that brendan thibodeau's didn't actually draw as much because his is actually the most successful example of what I'm really trying to get at which is the sort of cause and effect between personal work and people parting with money and all of those projects you saw do that but he did it the most overtly what the connection being that leased in case of tina's work is I see it it's actually a more to find art market than necessarily eh uh formal portraiture market which is very clear and you look at these and saying I like them I think they're great portrayals of childhood but they're not necessarily conventional portrait so the question is which you get hired to do conventional portraiture? Is that too much of a stretch? Would it be maura about sort of the almost anthropological experience of childhood? I don't know what your point is well taken them a part of this also the personal taste his own your personal approach to photography especially because you've been doing it professionally for a while vs just the stuff that I've been showing there's no right or wrong don't get close to an answer to that but that's what I'm asking you on the fine art side are we allowed to do that? You know? We lied to you step outside the boundaries of what we've been taught oh you probably should okay I misunderstood right? Oh my god that was mine you absolutely should I mean, I'll talk a little bit later in the week after but the idea of the box you know, people say think about side the box inside the box on the fine art projects especially it really is about kind of that signal where you say I'm going to not only show you something but I'm gonna give you the emotional sense of it the narrative, the intimacy one of things you notice about all the seven stuff I know you know this but your photograph kids from their height instead of up and she did all that stuff about I was here like I'm a seven year old on the next kid over so for that particular project works well and in terms of fine art yes, you probably do actually won a go beyond your comfort level because that's actually where the best art exists more questions all right, so I do have a question that kind of goes back to where you're saying you want to make sure your personal work and professional work kind of jail together like if you have your personal project but you won't well that's if you actually kind of get commissioned to do their particular project as a as you know a professional you know type thing do you wanna you wanna have them? I mean how do you how do you go about putting them both as faras kind of the same thing where your personal and your professional projects coming here together in terms of how do you put them up? Like, right? I mean, how do you how do you approach? That means far? Because I know things that I wanted to personal lives, that I have things that I want to shoot, but then at the same time, if you know how, but it hasn't been commissioned by anyone to do it, but do you take that that personal project and say, you know what? If someone was wanting to commissioned me to do this particular project on a professional level, how would I do that? I mean, is that how you is that what you're saying is for guys like howto did to get your personal projects and your professional projects to kind of jail together? Yeah, but basic, I'm thinking mostly because for pretty much all of us these days, that portfolio is the website, and if you look at a lot of other people's websites, you'll actually see a lot of people will break that down personal, professional or commission, something like that and that's, a really important thing, because it says to the viewer, the commission says, ups somebody else parted with money for this person to do this work, so they're probably not going to mess up. Which if you're paying money as a potential a signer that's actually enormous thing it's actually our biggest things ideas that the person you hired you may love their personal work, but if they haven't done enough paying work, you may or may not get out of this in one piece okay? And then you look at the the personal work and so the idea is that in theory they're both on the side if you look at my side, if you look at the sight of a lot of successful photographers there really showing you both okay and one of the things also and we could talk about this later in the week is the idea of editing the very tight, very small presentations you don't actually go on and on and show them seventy five pictures to show them ten or fifteen or twenty eight tops and they say yeah, why that person getting do assignment work by many different people? That person has all the things that I was talking about here in this other work and the body's work may not be the same, but they look at them and they say, oh yeah, so I'm at the point where at least want to call this person or email them were looking portfolio or start the dialogue, which is that's the hurley you're trying to get past nothing against all of us, but we're all competing you want them to come to you first because you have a skill set and if your site shows personal professional curated assigned other people anointing you, then you moved into the at least let's have a dialogue with the a person is paying question so to me they're basically both and one of the things to do besides looking another photographer's work which I talk a lot about you also looking at people's sight I mean they're very good sites you can go to where you immediately get it the buttons that they're trying to suggest I don't mean the web buttons like me the idea is no assigned work personal project stuff like that and there are sites you go to and you literally have no idea what is the person who's creating the site want mia's the end user to experience and for us who are doing I want to get paid to do this professionally the site has to make it facilitate that really easily all right then I answered that I feel like I go on sometimes he just made me think of something along with what you were saying if when you're setting up your portfolio on everything do you wanted to tell a story as you're going along? When you say setting people fooling me, make sure I understand you the website or know your actual hardbound portfolio like we have to do for classes for school do you want it to tell a story or you just picking out some of your best work from from your different classes but that's like another three day class? I've read a lot of different things about portfolios I have my own particular attitude and experience, I must say I haven't sent a printed physical portfolio and it might be ten years because it's all on the web and maybe at some point time depending if you want, we could pull up my side and I can explain to the logic behind it. Probably the easiest way is to just think of that portfolio that you're presenting and thinking there's, you're not there to explain it, and the person's got about forty five seconds to get it. Okay, so it's not so much linear, but it's the thing we keep talking about does it suggest you have a very high skill set? I know that seems like a given, but actually it's not so they need to see you have the skill set, and then the next one becomes immediately what's unique about this person what's their authorship and stuff like that, and if you could get past those two, then you're probably really getting close to that pint point of them saying, yeah, we want to actually have this this conversation with cyndi on on the phone or in person, so I know for school you guys have to do portfolios but your long term obviously is to do it on the web right? So, um more questions not yet let me keep going a little bit further so I'm going to give you your first homework all right? And then if you're smart you make these into like a three by five cards and you put them in your in your on your desktop and you come back and you just again in six months all the exercises were designed to be done now and then again in a few months so knowing that this is how I define a client talked about this before the person organization association or a venue that gives you something of tangible value in return for performing the photographic service he specialized in that's how I define a client they can also publish the work they can also exhibitor disseminated that's how I define client okay it's a broader definition that I think you've had about clients in the past and so the exercise your homework is to write out a list of your many clients okay? And I can tell you how this is going to go you'll get your first ten or fifteen right away people you've worked for before you may do them by name or you may sort of categorize them as port like gwen will talk about people's shoes on portrait's for during your busy season but then it starts becoming aren't so who were the other people who could help me out in this process who could give me something of value so I can give something of value to that's what I mean by clients and if you're right these out and then you put it aside and come back to it in six months have you been thinking about this? My guess is you're going to add some new people you may cross some people off because you really start thinking it's not a value exchange for both of us and then you add some new people and then if you use the mindset that I'm trying to get you to understand you're also going to find that your network of clients here's a surprise growth it'll get bigger and bigger that the point of the exercise all right you all with me so far okay fantastic just a general comment folks are really eleven this good just great morning great way to just really get the ball rolling so you're doing a fantastic job jen from sf would like to know can you talk a little bit more about the different ways you need to write to collaborate with your photography for example when did when did the farmworkers project how much did you collaborate in writing the article to tell the story oh it's it's a great question and it's a function of that's a function of the old market which at that point in time, I did all the photography and a lot of the research, and I started to write it. Then I sat down with the writer who ended up rewriting and polishing it, and then as I got better with the projects with the philadelphia inquirer, they would actually right too my finished projects, which was the best nowadays, increasingly the good news is the self employed person is that I'm doing more and more of my own writing, which means that I control the narrative more fully. The bad news is I also have to do that writing on dh then when you putting stuff out there, the good news about the web there's more space for pictures, there are more space for text, but you also have to maintain that same high quality, which actually can be harder sort of. The good news is you're in charge. The bad news is you're in charge and so that's a change from the old days when it was was print publications like a sunday magazine where there was basically only one in the philadelphia area now there's in theory a thousand outlets and so you have more opportunities, but you also have more responsibility great thank you small business photo would like to know, could you reiterate the difference between photo story and photo essay sure to me, it's a good question to me, the different in a photo story in a photo essays, that idea of a point of view okay photo story tends to be more informational photo essay is not only informational, but again it's that idea of a point of view what's unique to the story what's the character evolution that the people went through howto I see it, I mean, I could have done that farmworker story any of a number of different ways I could have been someone had you say, tackling more neutral, I could have done it about the growing. One of the choices I made was black or white versus color, because I didn't want it to become about actually tons of green out there for much of the year. I don't want to become about that. I wanted to become about this narrow thing, which is that point of view and to me, the difference in a photo essay and the story is that idea of having a point of view and that feeds into our process, which is to the end user doesn't just want a photo story, they want to know more about you. What do you care about all the stuff that I've been talking about along a photo essay does a better job than that? Just a photo story.