Well, I’m packing up for a week in NYC to bang on some doors
and hopefully meet some new editors. This trip is a long time coming and I’m
pretty excited. I’ve gotten some great response from my hand made promo dealy –
Whoo-HOO! – and a couple of appointments before I even get on the plane. It’s all
very encouraging. But the process of going and showing your folio isn’t like
going to apply for one of those job things that I hear people talk about. No
Ya see in a job interview you try to dress like you didn’t
need your mommas’ help and hopefully look like you might not freak out the clientele.
Then you are polite, attentive and show enthusiasm
about the job without seeming desperate for work even if you are. You try to
present yourself on paper through your resume and hope that they don’t notice
that bit you fudged to make the award seem more impressive than it really was.
In essence you try to seem professional and have enough positive experience to
handle the position. Pretty easy overall.
But when you are an artist looking for a new patron, wow it’s
different. There is almost never an “opening” that you are trying to fill. Nope
they already have people doing what you do. If anything they really don’t have
the time to see if you are, maybe, a far better guy for the job then the dude
they have been using for years. Maybe that dude isn’t really so hot but they
are comfortable with him. He’s a known quantity where as you, Mr. Hotshot,
could be a very talented but egoistical and artistically inconsistent flake. Even
if you are cutting edge they will often continue to hire their old standby
because he always comes through and is the nicest guy. Nobody takes chances and
certainly not on you.
Consider this: your portfolio is your resume and you can’t
very easily fudge that. If your work stinks it’s all right there for everyone
to see. Ok as a photographer there is always the magic of Photoshop to help you
fudge the fact that your exposure on that shot was off but if the image is
boring, then the image is boring regardless of what you did to make it. Did I
mention that they can tell if you “shopped it”? Boy-howdy does that say
something about you as a professional.
There on that art directors desk is not just what you’ve
been up to lately, it’s your soul and it’s being scrutinized. Joy! Every image
you put before them and everything that is in that frame says a ton about who
you are as a person and an artist. Your choice of subject matter, your physical
approach to the subject, your tendencies both compositional and technical, how
you relate to your subject and the list goes on. Heck just how you pair images
together says something so the pacing of your book is in itself a small treaty
on you. And you need to sell them on yourself in about a dozen or so images that
they will go through flip-flip-flip … “thanks for coming by!”
It is good to know that every meeting to show my folio is
like the “final interview” where they wouldn’t bother to give me ten minutes
unless they were actually considering me for work. There just isn’t the time to
meet with every Guy With Camera out there. Wheat from chaff ya know? For me it’s
a pretty tough experience and I never enjoy going through it. Unless that is if
the person holding my heart in their hands is enthusiastic about my folio and promptly
decides to give me work. That’s the rush that all the pain and suffering is
worth. He likes me! He likes me!