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.

Ghost Trigger

You buy you buy you buy you buy you buy!!!!! As I type this, I’m hold right now with my least favorite web host of all time: Uno y Prime aka 1&1. Their control panel blows. Their quarterly-only payment system continues that tradition; AND I have spent too much time with billing, customer service, and technical support than a web savvy, hungry mofo like myself should have to do.

Now, I’m not brand loyal nor am I a fan of the hard sell nor the hidden fee. Still, people are conditioned to respond preemptively. Still, apparently I am people. Knowing this, I told myself to calm down before waiting on hold with Uno y Prime. The rep however did not make herself aware of her Pavlovian conditioning (or didn’t care) and proceeded to waste my f!!king time until she was taught a lesson in CSL (Comprehension as a Second Language). Upon that point, she recognized that her almighty company had screwed me over on the invoice and was forced to return my lunch money.

October was an odd month but with a lot of promise. They all have a lot of promise don’t they? However, I was getting bashed in the grille for a nice stretch of time and my reprieve was to be the web site review and portfolio review a week later. Both reviews were through APA. I’ve changed most of the branding last year to reflect my dry humor and acerbic humor.

Matthew Jordan Smith

The sample emailer was crafted to exhibit that to a panel include Matthew Jordan Smith, Tom Devine, and a big-wig Art Producer whose name I forget at the moment. I’ve met Tom and Matthew before so I made comments within stating that I challenge MJS for the Presidency of the Hair Club for Men. Tom, being an exceptionally even-keeled cat in all the times I’ve seen him, was challenged to a championship bout of thumb wrestling. APA L.A.’s site is down as I type this so let’s say I offered the Art Producer 15% off of pixie dust and moonbeams. As I had never met her before, I felt it safe to not be overly aggressive in the discount.

Good enough plan, bad execution. The art producer had that English accent/Simon Cowel kind of thing going on being playfully snappy and informative. Given my disdain for public speaking I was gearing myself up for a playful clash. First, my promo had never made it onto the projector. When she had come to me, my web site with all its known flaws and my weird ass pictures (relative to the 20 previously discussed ones) were out there naked with limited interactivity and little context. She asked me a question (“Why do you name your categories the way you do?”) and I responded in full, dead-pan jest, “Do you care?”

Ghost trigger. Lead balloon.

Children started screaming and mofos stopped, dropped and rolled looking for earthquake safety zones. Immediately, MJS jumped to the rescue. Now, I repeat: I’ve met MJS quite a few times but we don’t hang out drinking brews talking about cricket matches and practical teaching method of the pythagorean theorem to Andalusian toddlers. He needs to be reminded of my name so I’m not blaming him because as moderator he has to control the crowd so he goes on about not being overly sensitive about one’s work et al. Me, sensitive?! Man, do you know who you’re talking about? No. I could say he misunderstood my brand of comedy but the real thing is that I didn’t project it properly as I needed to adapt to the change of circumstances. That’s real.

While MJS’s warning of grace is going down I’m laughing to myself that anyone could think I was serious but that’s why I call it a ghost trigger. We all have done and observed things that can easily predispose us to various actions and reactions and it’s a constant threat especially if you’re somewhat on the fringes.

is someone’s arm up in here?

In a group setting, you’re more likely to get someone who gets butt hurt or defensive over every little thing so there’s a common denominator factor. That’s the responsibility of those engaging public aka ME. Whereas I would have laughed out loud even if I thought the person was serious, Matthew was as smooth as a moderator can be in laying down the law. When I first met him, I had commented about that to him in something else he had moderated. Anyhowaysit.

After the event, I -still dry as all hell- explained to the panelists that I wasn’t remotely serious. I don’t know if they believed me or not. It doesn’t really matter in any specific way aside from the heuristic reminder to continually think on your feet. I’m not always going to make the right call. And worst off, the emailer is totally useless to me as a viable joke as no one is ever going to see it. Well, maybe I’ll edit in a link later. I’ll come back to the portfolio review post next time.