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Fellow photographer. Mentor. Friend.

[by Kevin Lock]

I met my mentor in college and didn’t even know it.

While attending San Diego State, I took my first ‘paying’ photographic job at the Daily Aztec.  After only being on staff for a few weeks I attended a slide show presentation on Somalia, presented by a photojournalist whom had begun the rocky transition from newspaper photographer to freelance.  After the presentation I ran down the photographer and interviewed him for an hour or so.  I had no idea at the time how profoundly this photographer would affect my career and how quickly.  I had just picked up my second job. Assistant.

Over the years my relationship with this photographer grew.  My photographic career metamorphosed.  He introduced me to his fellow photographers which led to new jobs, I mastered the art of being his gopher, dark room technician, second shooter, digital retoucher, studio manager, problem solver, occasional house sitter, and in time, business partner.  This ever evolving relationship has taken us on photographic adventures across the country and to a few international destinations.

It was with his encouragement that I joined the ASMP in 2003.   I attended a few board meetings and then he pushed me to run for president of my local chapter. After 2 years as president and as I approach my final year on the national board, I can’t help but think how differently things would be for me today had a photographer not taken interest in my journey and taken the time to help me succeed over the years.

Joel Zwink,  I thank you for your guidance, encouragement, and your friendship.

Kevin Lock is a current director of the ASMP.    While Kevin and Joel joined the ASMP at different times, they both continue to give back to their community by being photographers, helping photographers in San Diego and in a town near you.

By Kevin Lock | Posted: October 16th, 2014 | No comments

The Phone Call That Made My Career.

[by Pascal Depuhl]

One of my best friends is a photographer. I’ve known him for almost 25 years, actually he is the first guy I ever assisted, I’ve produced for him, he’s used my house as a location, I’ve borrowed his studio, he’s hired my wife as a model…but I want to share how he helped me without even knowing it.

It’s 1994.

I’ve been assisting in Chicago and Miami for two years and I want to move to the fashion capital of the world: New York City. And, I want to work with the best. So I fly to NYC for a few days to meet some photographers, see if they’d even consider hiring this young assistant who never went to photo school. Since my friend went to RIT, I figure I’d give him a call to get some introductions to his old classmates. Little did I know, that this phone call would make my career as an assistant.

He gives me a list of photographers he went to school with and I start making the calls.  Now my dream is to work with people like Peter Lindberg, Bruce Weber, Arthur Elgorth…you know, the legends in our industry. But, you gotta pay your dues, so I call his classmates, until I come to the last name on his list: Richard Avedon. “Tell Richard I said to call” my friend had joked. “Like that’s gonna help” I think, but I figure a phone call can’t hurt, so I spend the quarter (remember it’s the mid 90′s) and get the 4th assistant on the phone.

“How did you hear about the job?”

“What job?” I ask (I have no idea.), “We’re looking for a full time 4th assistant and are seeing people tomorrow. Here’s the address. Bring some personal work.” CLICK. Wow! Avedon. Can’t quite wrap my head around that. This guy is one of the pioneers of fashion photography! The next morning I show up in my Miami assistant uniform: desert camo combat boots, cut off jeans, T-shirt, with a few slides that I took while traveling. Nothing could have prepared me for what I was walking into. Picture a room full of RIT and Brooks graduates, about 20 of them. Everyone’s wearing their uniform: black suit, white shirt, black tie. Everyone with a degree in photography and everyone with a perfect school portfolio. I am so outgunned, it’s not even funny.

For some reason, the assistants who interviewed all of us like me and ask me back the next day. “We want to see you load some 8×10 film and meet with the 1st assistant.” Sure, no problem. I walk out. Mind you, I’ve never seen a large format camera, I have no clue how to load one. So I go to a photo store up the street and ask for one 8×10 film back and 2 sheets of large format film. I practice loading film the rest of the day. Load. Unload. Load. Unload. Wax on. Wax off. At the end of the day, I can do this blind-folded – which is a good thing, ’cause tomorrow I’ll have to do this blind.

I don’t remember if I slept …

… all I remember is standing in Avedon’s studio the next day. The first assistant asks me, while handing me a box of 8×10 film and a stack of holders, “Ever loaded a large format film before?” “Oh, sure.” I say, “Old pro.” Well to make a really long story short - a week later I’m working with Richard Avedon in New York City’s Industria Studio on the Pirelli Calendar. On the last day of that shoot Mr. Avedon comes over, shakes my hand and says: “Hi, I’m Dick. I hear your one of the hot New York assistants.”

“Honestly, sir,” I reply, “This is my first assisting job in New York.”

Pascal Elton-Avedeon 1994-lores

Pascal Depuhl went on to work with Richard Avedon as a freelance assistant for two years in the mid 90′s, after having turned down the full time 4th assistant offer. He also got to work with 9 out of the 10 photographers he had on his list. Contact him on twitter @photosbydepuhl.

 

By Pascal Depuhl | Posted: October 15th, 2014 | No comments
Get Connected

With a Little Help From My Peers

[by Francis Zera]

This may sound obvious for an ASMP blog, but the photographers I’ve met through ASMP have definitely made all the difference for my career and for my sanity.

Last year, I was invited to bid on what would turn out to be the most valuable gig of my career to date. Problem was, I’d never before bid on a project that was, in essence, a multi-year documentary project. I understood the scope of the project, along with the materials and equipment that would be required and usage parameters. What I didn’t know was how to package a bid like that. Or how to calculate an appropriate overall budget that would remain competitive in my regional market.

So what did I do? First, I did what most everyone probably does — I gave it my best shot on my own, but I certainly had little confidence in that first draft.

My next step was to call several of my ASMP peers, both locally and in other parts of the country. We never discussed actual dollar amounts. Instead, they offered suggestions on presentation ideas and tactics. Most importantly, they all offered unsolicited moral support, which really helped to boost my confidence in the bid that I eventually submitted. With their help, I put together a thorough and professional bid, and eventually won the job.

Competing photographers are not the enemy — we’re all in this together, and peers supporting peers is the normal order of business in many industries. We should look to our fellow photographers for advice, support, and shared wisdom, and definitely return the favor when asked. No one gave away any secrets, and much of the advice simply confirmed that I was on the right track, but that support made the whole process seem a lot less perilous. By being part of part of a larger community and not doing this on my own, I gained more than insights on tactics and presentation – I gained the confidence necessary to present my bid with the professionalism and poise needed to convince the client I was right for the job.

Francis Zera is a Seattle-based architectural and commercial photographer. He teaches the business curriculum in the photography department at the Art Institute of Seattle, and recently completed an M.A. Ed. in adult education and training. You can check out his work at zeraphoto.com and follow him on twitter.

By Francis Zera | Posted: October 14th, 2014 | No comments

Photographers Helping Photographers

With everything changing so fast – technology, publishing, media, advertising, audience building, client needs, everything – going it alone is…well…it just doesn’t make sense.  It is time for photographers to come together, share knowledge, pool resources and support each other.  This week, our contributors share how they’ve benefited from building a strong network of peers. ~ Judy Herrmann, Editor

By Editor | Posted: October 14th, 2014 | No comments

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