APA-L.A. Portfolio Review, February 22 2014

APA Los Angeles‘ first portfolio review of the year was at Deutsch in Playa Del Rey this time. That meant the Sprite and Pepsi cans had to be replaced by Dr. Pepper and the like. Since, I volunteer for several events through the year, I gain a certain familiarity with the layout of the building and have a slightly better feel for the company seeing some of the boards on the wall and items on the desk. What they have readily displayed which I can mention without causing offense for APA is that they have some of their larger props from commercials displayed in some halls and common areas (aka the Dr. Pepper Iron Man Soft Drink Dispenser). I don’t take pictures in the facility as I don’t know their policies and it’s a better safe than sorry kind of thing.

footballMara Serdans, Senior AD at Deutsch, wrangled things on the Deutsch end while Heidi Goverman and Anthony Nex wrangled the APA end as normal. For the second time in a row, I was not scheduled to meet with Mara, however, she recognized me from the prior event and by helping out, I got to have a series of brief banter with her throughout the day which should go towards greater familiarity. I use these reviews to meet people (“network”) rather than put on a full court press. Some of the people you meet will never hire you. However, someone who is familiar enough with you might find a project down the line or even be able to suggest you to a peer. You target your marketing but most of my past successes came from word of mouth. I’m not certain where present success will come from so I’m playing my angles.

Coming off of a dead holiday season, this was a welcome professional step into the new year. Because I was speaking to 3 photo editors and one design company owner who all had a lot of experience, I had no concern that everyone would stay on target. Some of the babies think that you’re their for critique. Nope; ‘too old for that s!*t. What I had was a collection of professionals that from there different perspectives allowed me to confirm certain questions that I had. My new book wasn’t ready due to the nature of the horrendous ass whooping that winter 2013/14 has laid out so I pushed the new web site and opened the dialogue to my expanded skill set. (Side note: thus far, reviewers at APA reviews are most frequently photo-only in their needs)

BrandyHeidi Volpe does the Daily Edit at APhotoEditor.com, has tons of experience, insightful, I liked her personality. (I’m getting hungry so completion of this post is imminent.) She directed me to a consortium of magazines and reinforced some thoughts that I had. Deb Grisham and I had past experience… a rough one (I’ll link back to the post of the incident should I ever take the time to find it). However, meeting with her was great because we finally got to duke it out once and for all and she also reinforced some thoughts I had and clarified some misconceptions. When you have a crash and burn scenario in this field you don’t always get a chance to rectify the situation. Having a second chance to convert a bad impression into a good one was cool. (HUNGER!) Maybe her 8 year old daughter and my son will be able to resolve conflicts together one day as a world class super team hell bent on truth and justice …and ice cream.

I came into all of these meetings a bit loose. Audrey Landreth, freelance Photo Editor at The Hollywood Reporter, had such good posture that my back started hurting. She hipped me to some of the changes that had gone on with The Hollywood Reporter and general approaches in the trades. She took the time to specify styles that she could be interested in respect to the HR’s look. Tom Saputo of Saputo Design is a repeat. He saw my boy’s movie and made some marketing suggestions and spoke of some different approaches. In these conversations, Tom tells me what he’s doing almost as much as I tell him. It’s helpful to get a gauge on ancillary aspects of the industry. He also took my damn picture which is verboten. He has our prior discussion on his blog and apparently wanted to ugly up his new post with a horror design. Go check his bad decision out at your own risk because I’m not directly linking to it.

I got to wave at the wonderful Jigisha since I spared her by not meeting with her this time. *I have to eat. I might 2.0 this post given how general it is but I’ll re-evaluate before I settle on that decision. Buenos noches, dias, bananas.

So hungry! Got to eat!!!

So hungry! Got to eat!!!

APA Portfolio Reviews (June 2013)

The weeks leading to the review were excessively stressful. I had decided to clean the slate and only work with clientele that was on the level that my skills represent. Given my standing, it’s a high-wire act that could be considered self-destructive. However, I’m about fully invested in the concept of patterns: systems of thought and behavior. Behavior is not what people say, but what they do.

My preparation of bumping up my reel and portfolio with action/sports work went for naught so the evening before the event I mined through the archives and pulled 6 skateboard shots and color corrected them. I didn’t know who I was speaking with so I wanted to have a variety if I came across those who wanted “pure” photography. That actually is normally the case. Every branch of commercial photography wants something different and what you find in a portfolio review (as I’ve mentioned in other reviews) are reactions of personal bias (subjectivity), industry trends and company norms.

Someone will like what you have. It’s a given. The most evil troll has a troll at home that loves him/her. Now someone there might not like what you present. That’s about targeting. Even the best presentation won’t allow you to display your amateur pr0n images to a Nickelodeon rep for a good end. As I mentioned, I didn’t receive my reviewer list and Heidi (director of APA L.A.) was stuck behind a flipped over 18 wheeler with one thousand other Valley-ites so board-member Dennis Dunbar and I set up the facility (TBWA Chiat-Day) and greeted the early birds as best we could. Once, Heidi got there and Anthony Nex (APA big wig), I continued my volunteer duties before going to my first reviewer who had been late because of traffic also.

This went over well with Adv and Ed types

This went over well with Adv and Ed types

My book was mixed with all types of shots that I had sequenced. I was on a “fuck it” kind of mode by then because that really was all that was left with the lack of food, sleep, and limited time to prep. I had intended on changing clothes prior to meeting with the reviewers but they had already seen me moving shit around so why front?

Jenny Horn from Fox Photo Publicity liked my book for the most part. What I came to understand is that would be revealed in plain sight later is that entertainment people look at imagery completely differently than advertising people for the most part. They are used to certain types of photo manipulation that isn’t as readily reflected in other commercial photography. I’ve spent a lot of time in advertising/design houses so my aesthetic somewhat reflects that. Basically, Jenny Horn liked that I showed a range and a skill with entertainment personalities. Also, I should pop a few more celebrity types in the portfolio just for the sake of ease of viewing.

Denise Knickerbocker was a little bit cooler on what I presented. Part of that I’m certain was that I was getting a little weirder. I had my son’s Rey Mysterio toy with me to keep me focused because I hadn’t eaten in a couple of days because of my strenuous schedule. I did explain to her that I didn’t hear any voices from Rey… unless she did also. The main thing that Denise said was that some of the shots (conceptual ones) probably were too complicated in that it didn’t leave anything left for an ad agency to do. She knows it’s display of a skill/aesthetic thing but there is always the psychological projection to which you have to be wary.

Jigisha Bouverat & Rosie Ollero: I met them in that order and I’m grouping them because their thoughts were fairly similar. I’ve known Jigisha for about 3 years now so I already knew what she liked and what she had to say. She only dug the action/sports shots and mainly the volleyball shot that I threw in the night before hand. It’s still not on my site as I’ve been BUSY. She shot straight and told me that from her experience her former company (TBWA Chiat-Day) would never hire me on any I presented with the exception of a book full of shots as the ones she pointed out. ImageRosie was unimpressed by all shots. But I definitely wanted her to get to that point because that level of clarity is more important than a bunch of runaround. I’m not a kid and I’m not looking for a critique at a review. I’m going there to meet the people so I know what to present to them for business. As I had told both of them, “I’m made of steel. Shoot straight.” People ordinarily don’t believe that you dig the bottom line and I appreciate them for their candor.

Annie Hong and I were destined for increased weirdness. It was the last one of the day so I was hungrier and I had ZERO editorial images. She went into reviewer mode which I tried to stop by asking her personal work history questions. It was a tug of war but I think we made it out of there with our body parts in tact. She gave me her card after I asked for it which was all I expected from the situation. She said I was the strangest meeting that she had there that day. The cliché of saving the best for last may or may not be true.