Fashion

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Wynn Myers is a lifestyle photographer born and raised in Austin. Known for her eye for authentic moments, Wynn loves to capture the beauty and joy in the everyday. Wynn’s love of photography began when a friend introduced her to the high school darkroom.

After attending the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, she relocated to New York City, where she worked for fashion designer, Zac Posen, and attended the International Center of Photography. In 2006, Wynn graduated from the Maine Media Workshops’ Professional Certificate Program. Wynn received her BA in Photocommunications, Summa Cum Laude, from St. Edward’s University in Austin.

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Photo by Kristen Wrzesniewski
Photo by Kristen Wrzesniewski

Photo by Kristen Wrzesniewski

For those of us who started our photo careers in a darkroom 36 frames at a time, it can be daunting trying to navigate digital and social photography as a business model. This is not the case for Kristen Wrzesniewski, a young (but wise beyond her years) photographer based in Austin, Texas. She is simultaneously tackling both social media and medium format film cameras. Kristen owns a beautiful and soulful style that is already recognizable, and she’s only just getting started.

Kristen is not just an excellent photographer, she is also the Marketing Director for Photogroup Austin, an Instagrammer for Lumix, and a blogger for Small Camera Big Picture. She knows where her web traffic comes from and she understands that photography succeeds when it’s about experiences, not just attitude.

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What makes Kristen stand out is how much of what she does feels sincere and very organic. She has over 3000 Instagram followers on her personal account, but she seems concerned only with the creative outlet. She does her double exposures in-camera (“I like to do things the hard way”), and rarely plans out her shoots (“I want to see the soul of the person I’m photographing, show who they are deep inside”). She’s not likely to be out with a crew of stylists in tow, nor is she going to post every frame or even every shoot online.

I want to see the soul of the person I’m photographing, show who they are deep inside.

Kristen is mostly self-taught. She began shooting her friends to relieve summer break boredom in her teens. After high school she put her point-and-shoot aside to study English at Texas State, but eventually came back to photography. She stuck with it despite a film teacher disliking her work enough to discourage her.

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The majority of images in Kristen‘s portfolio (many of which are still of her girlfriends) look like fashion and beauty shots, but she does not identify as fashion photographer. She is not really sure yet how she wants to make her mark, but is resolute that her work has to have meaning.

You mentioned shooting with the Lumix GH3 and GX7. What other cameras or equipment do you work with?

I have also shot with a Nikon D7000 in the past, but am selling it to focus on shooting with smaller cameras. The camera is typically secondary to me. With that said, I’m becoming addicted the GH3. It’s a great tool once you understand how to use it. About 30-40% of my work is film, but I have been shooting mostly digital this year because film can be expensive.

“Texas has a really good feeling to me, everyone is so kind.”

What are your favorite places to shoot in Texas and why?

Anywhere outside! Bastrop State Park is beautiful (and sadly, even more photogenic now). Enchanted Rock is an amazing place to shoot, but anywhere outside will do. I like exploring small Texas towns and talking to people who run small storefronts. Last time I was at Enchanted Rock with a model we went into a small fur and antler shop and the store owner was kind enough to let us shoot with his furs. It was great.

Texas is such a giant vast place, and there are so many different kinds of people and landscapes here. I’d really love to take a road trip all over Texas and just document what I see and the people I meet.

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What is your overall impression of the photography industry/community in Texas as a photographer and studio director?

I think Texans are much more laid back than the rest of the country, in general. (Mostly) everyone I’ve met has been so nice and open. There are a few people who carry an elitist kind of attitude but I don’t let those people get to me because a bad attitude gets you nowhere. I’d like to see more people openly talking about HOW they make their photos – people can be so secretive about this and I don’t know why. I believe even if I tell someone how I did something, they still cannot replicate it because it came from my brain. It’s my vision. I’d like to see more sharing of information in the future but I think that is well on its way. Things are changing in the photography world – we now have so much access to information, and I like it like that.

Who are your mentors?

-Chip Willis (who lives in Ohio) has been a sort of internet mentor to me. I was incredibly inspired by his work for a very long time before we even spoke. He has always been supportive of me, even though sometimes my work looks a lot like his!

-Also, Giulio Sciorio has been a great mentor and teacher. He is a long time pro and an awesome photographer. He specializes in hybrid photography and has shown me the ropes over the past few months. It’s been an amazing learning experience. He’s taught me a lot about the business aspects of photography as well.

-Robert Bradshaw, my boss at Photogroup, has also been a great mentor. He is a wealth of knowledge, and he hired me on even though I had never shot in a studio before and knew absolutely nothing about studio photography. Over the past year he has taken a lot of time to teach me everything he knows and I am incredibly grateful. 

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Are you shooting more studio work now?

I used to shoot only natural light but have taken up studio light in the past year. I like it because I have more control and can manipulate it and make odd shapes and shadows. Honestly, I love them both, just not together.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

I will have to quote Ira Glass on this one: 

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

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When I ask Kristen what inspires her she mentions hip-hop music, old films and Kubric. When I ask about her thoughts on the future, she only mentions plans through May. I think that might just be the secret to her success.

Kristen is represented by Wonderful Machine.

 

 

 

 

 

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Don’t tell her I said it but I’ve had a bit of a girl-crush on Tania Quintanilla since I first saw her impeccably polished beauty shots from one of her collaborations with top Austin make up artist, Maris Malone Calderon. Now, every time I talk to Tania I realize we have more and more in common besides fashion photography; a love of red lipstick (hers Nars Red Lizard, mine, MAC Rocker,) the same favorite taco joint -Taco More, favorite flower – peony, fashionista vs geek personalities, undergrad studies in biochemistry, and a semi-secret love for vampire novels.

Tania is originally from Monterrey, Mexico but her family moved to San Antonio in 1985, “Just in time for me to memorize Top Gun and all the lyrics to Whitney Houston, the album.” She began studying photography in Texas, later moved on to Brooks Institute in California, started her career in Miami, and came back full circle as one of the best fashion photographers in Austin.

How did you get your start in photography?
I had a crush on this guy in high school that carried around a camera. I decided to take a photography class to get to know him. Turns out he was on the yearbook staff, so I fell in love with the darkroom instead. I guess I was a natural because I would get asked to shoot events all thru high school and then when I was in college getting my biochemistry degree I worked for the newspaper as the staff photographer. Once I graduated I decided to learn how to really use a flash, so I went to Brooks Institute of Photography in California where the program consists of 3 years of intensive (boot camp-like) photography education. I moved to Miami to work on my fashion portfolio and the rest is history.

Texas has soul.  Not sure if it’s the spicy food, the big skies, or the music, but it drew me back.  I love it here.  There is still a little WILD WEST feel in Texas.

Who has influenced you?
I was really lucky in school. My high school teacher, Art McNicols, really believed in me and pushed me in the right direction. Then in photography school I met TC Reiner, he is a lighting genius and an impossible teacher to please, so naturally I love him. He would make you cry in one sentence and change your life in the next. He teaches me still.

What was your best career decision?
Moving to Miami instead of NYC straight out of school. TC Reiner told me Miami was filled with talent and photographers don’t live there. He was right. I had access to great models and crew, great assisting jobs, and the competition living in town was small. I built a great client base and a solid portfolio before I moved back home to Austin.

How has the move changed your career?
I loved Miami, and I go back a lot, but I missed the people in Austin.  I think my career suffered a bit when I moved to Austin but I feel more inspired here.  The fashion world is tiny in Austin.  When people in my industry reach a certain level they tend to move to New York or California.  Just last year I lost six of my regular crewmembers.  The good news is Austin is still full of incredible talent.  I have worked with some big shots in the hair and makeup industry here.  Local models that I photographed are making it big around the world.  Most just love living in Austin and travel for work.

People are creative here.  They understand the creative process and they support it.  In Miami you can’t put your tripod on the beach without having to pay a permit.

You say that you feel more inspired in Austin, can you elaborate on that?
I feel more inspired in Texas than any other place I’ve lived because the people here keep me happy and sane.  In Austin you can start a conversation with a barista in some random coffee shop who also has a PhD in rocket science.  People are creative here.  They understand the creative process and they support it.  In Miami you can’t put your tripod on the beach without having to pay a permit.  (NO OFFENSE, Miami.)  Texas has soul.  Not sure if its the spicy food, the big skies, or the music, but it drew me back.  I love it here.  There is still a little WILD WEST feel in Texas. It’s freeing.

Your retouching skills are pretty mind-blowing. How did you learn and how long do you typically spend retouching one beauty shot?
I have to admit I’m a little bit of a weird nerd.  I grew up on video games and Vogue magazine.   I always wanted to be a one of those kids who could draw, but I didn’t have the patience.  When I was introduced to Photoshop 10 years ago, my world opened up.  I took all the classes my school offered and would play with my images for hours.  Then out of college, I attended seminars, bought tutorials, and practiced.  Once you know something is possible you can find a way to make it happen.  These days for a really complicated beauty image it might take me 3 hours to retouch.

Once you know something is possible you can find a way to make it happen.

How do you manage the business side of photography? Do you send email blasts and postcards? 
No, I try a little, sometimes, but most of my work comes from pimping out my portfolio.  I am always updating my website and blog.  I try to keep up with my social media.  I get a lot of work from referrals.  When I get a couple of weeks off, I am going to implement some sort of marketing e-blast thru Agency Access.  Also, I am currently represented by Wonderful Machine, and they seem to be getting the work out.

 

 

 

 

How do you feel that social media has changed photography, good or bad? Do you Instagram? 
I love to Instagram, hate to Twitter, and I feel neutral about Facebook.   I do think social media is the future of advertising.  As for personal marketing, the key is to get the followers with influence.  I’m not sure I have that yet.  I do plan to one day get smarter about my social media.  For now, I’m just participating on the sidelines.  

What would your dream assignment be?
I love any assignment that will take me, and my pick of an excellent crew, to wild locations hidden around the world.  Also, I love to shoot big hair and makeup ad campaigns.

 I do think social media is the future of advertising.  As for personal marketing, the key is to get the followers with influence.

Any horror stories?
I’ve had models faint on set, clients cancel shoots because of one word on a contract, missed flights, and shoots in 110 degrees with swamps of mosquitos.  It’s all part of the job.

What is next for your career?
I hope to keep my home base here and split my time between Austin and NYC.  Austin is growing so much but I would really have to focus on lifestyle to flourish in Austin’s advertising Industry.  I’m more of a fashion and beauty photographer and that kind of work is limited here.  I’m also looking for more aggressive representation.

Do you have a favorite Texas place to shoot, visit, or find inspiration when you are not working in the studio?
I love the old architecture of downtown San Antonio.  I love to shoot in the hill country.  Have you been to Hamilton Pool?  It’s like fairies and unicorns live there.

I’ve had models faint on set, clients cancel shoots because of one word on a contract, missed flights, and shoots in 110 degrees with swamps of mosquitos.  It’s all part of the job.

What would you be doing if you were not a photographer?  
This question scares me.  In an alternate universe sits a girl in a biochem lab studying genetics that looks just like me.  I don’t think she’s happy though.

What are some of your other hobbies? What do you enjoy doing when you are not shooting?  I am obsessed with ceramics.  I love hand building and anything Raku. I’m also still addicted to vampire novels.  I know that boat has sailed for most but when the time comes to be tested on my vampire knowledge I could write a thesis.  My new love is paddle boarding on the lake.  LOVE, LOVE the summer fun!!!

 

 

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Jonathan Zizzo is a commercial photographer based out of Dallas. His social media bio reads “Conceived in the backseat of a Chevy Nova at the Dinosaur Valley State Park. Mother was a gogo dancer and father was a trucker. I’m a great photographer.” So we sat down with him to find out more.

How did you decide or know photography was what you wanted to do?
I started out as a Fine Art Major at Kilgore College. I was very interested in art, so I studied graphic design. The graphic design program did not inspire me though. I was completing projects before other students and didn’t feel challenged. While at Kilgore, I was required to take a photography class and began to shoot for the student newspaper. I loved the responsibility of creating pictures for a story and fell in love with the program.

Who have been some of the influencing mentors you’ve had?
Rufus Lovett is the reason I got into photography on a deeper level. His sense of humor made it fun to show up to class. Rufus, the photography instructor,  is a Texas monthly contributor.  Rufus was also a Assistant to Ansel Adams at one time.

I know a lot of people ask you why you don’t move to LA or NYC with the type of portfolio you have. Why Dallas?
Dallas is where it is happening for me. Dallas is home to 18 Fortune 500 companies. We have major advertising agencies here that hold the keys to some of the most extraordinary brands of all time. If I did move to LA or NY, I would be starting over.

For me there is always the opportunity to do work for companies and agencies in both of those cities. By the time I’m 50 or 60 years old I don’t want to be in a city that is for the youthful entrepreneur. I don’t want that midlife crisis to be happily unmarried and be begging for a transition to the simple life. I’m a country boy at heart.  Moving to NY or LA is so cliché’ Like this is Texas we are supposed to be the big bad and the ugly. Those places are only “cool” by a popular opinion. There’s a lot of opportunity in this City and I’m proudly an ambassador to change the mentality or preconceived ideas that people have formed about Dallas.

How did you get into photographing celebrities? What do you enjoy most about it
I was a Staff Photographer at Envy Magazine a publication that was here in Dallas for a few years. I don’t think people ever realized all off those celebrity covers were shot here in Dallas.

What are you currently working on? Do you have anything big happening for you in 2013?
I’m working a portrait series for Zodiac Watches.  I am shooting professional athletes & celebrity personality’s people who most would consider legendary types. Starting 2013 with a project like this is great!

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What inspires you or what do you look for when shooting portraits and fashion?

When I’m shooting a portrait of someone. I’m interested in creating an image that shows a likeness of the person. The moment that I come into contact with this individual I am studying their body language. Looking for nuances, things that might make the picture more interesting. I like saving room for spontaneity. When I’m shooting fashion i’m looking for models that can take direction well & move well. I’m inspired by guys like Lee Clow and George Lois. Life is so inspirational, I’m interested in a broad spectrum of things. I like to wonder around 99 cent only stores and look at everything on the shelves and take a mental image of things I can buy as a prop for only a dollar. I think it’s important to not lose your sense of wonder. Stay as curious about all things as possible.

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What is #iamthezizz?
It’s basically just a user name!  Coaches and friends growing up started calling me the Zizz, so I embraced it! I’ll eventually have to switch it up as I get older, I am sure. My middle name is Buck. I’m really looking forward to changing my name to that when I’m much older. Buck Zizzo is pretty bold! I don’t think I’m quite there yet.

Do you have any hobbies?
I’ve been riding BMX since I was 14. Unfortunately, all of my friends (my age)  have real jobs and I don’t get to spend as much time with those guys scootin’ around the skatepark as I would like.

What are your thoughts on Instagram?
Instagram is a basically digital pollution. That is highly addictive and everyone is contributing to it. I know a lot of photographers who take it really seriously. They are probably out there right now kneeling down pointing and clicking trying to find that artistic angle. It’s even worse when they use the phonto app, throwing typography over their photo like it’s as popular as a Taylor Swift album cover. Shooting pictures with your iPhone, worrying which application or filter to use, is for the consumer you guys. Listen, NO Art Director should give a rat’s ass about  what you’re doing with your iPhone. I understand mobile technology is on the rise but I use the internet as a form of dialog to draw people in, form a likeness, and build relationships with people who “like” what I’m interested in. Trying to prove to everyone that you’re such a badass with your iPhone makes no sense. Stop already.

Favorite place for drinks?
Cosmos, I go there because I want to have a drink and be around folks that are there for the same reason. It’s no glitz, no glam. Just a place to divulge into adult beverages!

BBQ?
Peggy Sue’s in Highland Park of all places. It has this mom and pop type vibe to it. They haven’t changed the price of their menu items based on their zip code. I’m a patron and whoever is reading this should be too!

What’s in your camera bag right now?
I’m currently shooting with a Nikon D600 24.3 full frame HDSLR. I’ve had shutters go out on previous bodies, so I don’t see the point in dropping 7 grand on a body. If I was making payments on a camera like that I’d be really ticked off at Nikon and Canon right now. This camera is terrific. It does exactly what I need it to. There are so many rental houses in Dallas, which is very fortunate. It’s easy to get your hands on something with more resolution like a Hasselblad or a Phaseone camera  if you need it. I also use Speedotron Lighting equipment. My 2400 packs boss hog electricity and trips breakers watch out.

Jonathan Zizzo ©

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How did you get started in photography?
I always loved art, and my dad taught me and my sister how to draw when we were little. However, I didn’t really get into photography until high school when I took a black and white film class at a community college. I fell in love with photo, and also thought it would be easier to make a living doing commercial photography then drawing or being a gallery artist. I was one of those weird students that knew exactly what they wanted to do going into college and never changed their mind. I think that might be a little abnormal, but maybe good abnormal? Not sure!

Do you remember your first camera? The first photo you were proud of?
It was a 110 film camera and I think it actually said “My First Camera” on the package. Pretty sure my dad still has that somewhere…I should look for it. I was super proud of some of the images I took in my first black and white film class, and I still really like some of those. You can really fall in love with photos when you are doing everything manually, with care by delicate hand. They are so much more special that way.

How do you manage the business side of photography? Do you send email blasts and postcards?
I have sent out lots of promo stuff the last few years, and gotten some response, but mainly I get jobs through relationships and people I know, or get introduced to people in the business by way of people I know. If I could go back and tell photography students one thing, it would be to make friends with people in the design program at their school. Those are the people who are going to be hiring you in the future, and those are the relationships you need to make and keep throughout the years.

Personally, I find email blasts annoying, and so I would rather not annoy other people with my own, but postcards and other things are always fun to get in the snail mail, so I will send those out to photo editors and ad agencies. Advertising through blogs and people with lots of social networking followers is a great tool to spread your name out there as well. I got a really awesome job shooting for the University of Minnesota through Twitter of all places, so you never know how people will find you!

 If I could go back and tell photography students one thing, it would be to make friends with people in the design program at their school.

Do you have a rep? Why/why not?
I don’t currently have a rep. I had one for a while a few years ago, and I go back and forth with wanting one and not wanting one. On one hand it would be amazing to not have to deal with invoicing and receipts, but on the other hand I would have to give someone a percentage of jobs. My plan is to just keep doing what I am doing, and if I get a really big job that I am having a hard time handling, I might start looking more seriously for a rep, or if someone approches me, I might think about it.

Do you mainly shoot in digital?
Yes, mostly digital, although, I only had 2 digital classes in college, and shot a lot of film on my Mamiya 645. I still shoot film for fun, but all jobs are usually taken digitally.

What’s your go-to gear?
Those that know me, know that I am the antithesis of a gear head. I am completely content with a only a Canon 5D Mark II and a 50mm 1.2 lens. That’s all I need. As for lighting, just give me the sun. I have always been enamored with natural light, and manipulating what is already available in the scene by way of reflectors and such. I am intrigued by light and watching it play on walls and in spaces throughout the day. I am constantly observing light patterns and reflections…sometimes it’s annoying because I can’t turn that part of my brain off, even when I don’t have a camera in my hand.

Have you spent time living in LA or NYC? Do you think it is crucial?
I lived in NYC the Summer of 2007, and then from 2008-2009, but moved back to Dallas shortly after the economy hit rock bottom up there. I think it is absolutely beneficial to move to LA or NYC, but not necessarily crucial. You are a fish in a MUCH bigger sea, and I have found it easier to establish myself in a smaller pond such as Dallas, where there is still a lot of cool work.The market isn’t as over saturated in Dallas so I am more easily spotted as a photographer. Plus, it is so much cheaper for me to fly to NYC multiple times a year for jobs than to actually live there (clients are usually pay for the flight anyway). However, I do miss it sometimes. NYC is a great city, and I love walking. I’ve been to LA a few times and shot some things, but the traffic makes my whole entity rage and my blood boil (I am not exaggerating). I don’t know how they do it over there. I definitely respect LA dwellers!

Have you spent time assisting other photographers?
When I lived in NYC in 2007, I assisted two photographers and learned so much about how to deal with clients, calculate expense receipts, and just the business side of things in general. It was extremely helpful, and I am still in fairly regular contact with them. However, when I wanted to start shooting on my own I actually found it more helpful to prop style assist. That way I got to meet art directors and people on shoots without being labeled as a photo assistant. Sometimes it is hard for people to see you as a shooter if you meet them while working for another photographer. Plus, you would never ever want to step on the toes of aphotographer you were assisting for or steal their client from them.

So, it’s hard because if you want to say, shoot for Gap, and you photo assist on a Gap photo shoot, it is going to be difficult to escape the photo assistant context in which you met the Gap creative director. Common sense says you should not give your business card to the creative director anyway, because you are working with the photographer. I would never dream of doing that, so it’s almost detrimental to your career to meet clients who you want to work for while being a photo assistant. However, in prop style assisting, I got to meet art directors and sometimes the prop stylist I was working with even promoted me and handed the art director my card. I think photo assisting can be great in lots of ways, but if you want to shoot on your own I wouldn’t recommend doing it for very long.

Sometimes it is hard for people to see you as a shooter if you meet them while working for another photographer.

 

What is your favorite thing about photographing in Texas?
I think Texas is so versatile in look and feel. You have big cities, flat fields, deserts, hill country, and pine trees! Texas is huge, so it’s nice to have the ability to get in your car and drive! The sunsets are so lovely, and I feel like there are so many different locations and backgrounds to use in photographs.

Do you have a dream assignment?
I love shooting look books, and catalogs, so I would love to shoot some things for Fossil, or more for Anthro. I’ve also always wanted to shoot an editorial portrait for W Magazine. The portraits in there are so pretty!!

Do you have any favorite photo books?
I love love love Sally Mann, and her Immediate Family book.Those images of her kids are so lovely; I could stare at them all day. I have also always been a huge William Eggleston fan, so anything from him is super.

What are you inspired by?
Dappled light, fall leaves, building things with my hands, music, punny jokes, documentaries, and good conversations.

How did you end up working with Anthropologie? What about Pinhole Press?
I sent Anthro a promo and they contacted me about doing some promotional stuff for their Push Play music series. It was pretty awesome to shoot Stacy from Eisley and Sucré. I was a huge fan of Eisley in 2004, and if my 2004 self would have known that I was going to get that job 8 years later I would have not believed it! I have been working with Pinhole Press before they even launched as a company. I few years ago they found some images of mine and bought them to use for their products and company launch. We just developed a relationship and I have been working with them ever since! They are hands down some of my favorite people to work with and it’s been fun hanging out with them on our crazy kid filled shoots. The best was spending a couple days shooting in CT at their amazing cabin, while mini golfing and ice cream eating!

Favorite breakfast taco?
Good to Go Taco. In my opinion, breakfast tacos always need to be in the near vicinity of good coffee, and Good to Go and Cultivar Coffee are in the same place, so double win!

Favorite libation?
A salty dog (grapefruit juice, vodka, and a salted rim!) is probably my favorite cocktail. And of course I am always game for a delicious Shiner, yum.

Do you collect anything?
I collect milk glass vases. I guess maybe that is kind of weird, but I love finding them in antique or thrift stores when I am traveling or on vacation. They are small enough to easily take back home, and they look so pretty altogether. So far I have 16. I used to collect stamps though, and go to a stamp club at a library. All part of being homeschooled I guess!

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Sara Kerens is a fashion and editorial photographer splitting her time between Dallas and New York CIty. Some of her recent clients include Anthropologie and Marie Claire.

Were you always interested in photography? How did you get started?
I started out Pre-Med and wanting to be a cardiovascular surgeon. My parents are still disappointed I’m sure of it. I took an Intro to Photography class in college because it was a hobby. My professor, Cade White, encouraged me to apply for an open position at the newspaper. Within the year I was the Chief Photographer. I kept shooting even after leaving the paper to be involved in student government. I shot engagement pictures in college to make extra money and charged $35. I know. Learning the business side of photography was a bit painful for this Rio Grande Valley girl.

Could you elaborate a little on learning the business side of photography? How do you manage business, marketing and promotion?

the business side of being a freelance photographer is a beast!

Yes, the business side of being a freelance photographer is a beast! I love the creative aspect of photography. I had to learn how to manage the money, the marketing, producing and much much more. Being a freelance photographer without an agent is like having 5 jobs. I sought the advice of many people in photography as well as public relations directors, and marketing gurus. At the end of the day, it falls on me. Social media has been a huge way to get my work out, especially to audiences that I may not already be in contact with. It’s important to present yourself genuinely. Who you are and what you enjoy and are doing. I am a very extroverted and positive person, and you get a feel for that through my tweets and posts.

How are you developing your personal vision?
I have several goals that I desire to accomplish with my career and personal life. My work and life often overlap because of my interest in certain subjects. At this point, I am both shooting and showing my book to a wider audience. This helps see how my style and interests work with a variety of publications and clients. I desire to travel and live in Europe, so that influences the track that I am pursuing and the type of work that I spend my time on, even personal work. My style overall is consistent, but I like to push myself and even challenge myself to try different techniques or subjects. It’s fun and keeps it interesting.

How often do you take photos?
I photograph daily. Even if it is my iphone, I snap at least 5 photos a day. I Instagram consistently because for me, this is such a fun way for me to share my life and work with those who care to look and be a part of it.

Do you mainly use digital?
I shoot mainly digital because that’s generally the most economic route. Clients usually want digital as well, especially with fashion as they can see the images immediately on screen and take home images from the shoot the day of.
I take Polaroids when I am able. I photographed a Dallas band, Fox and the Bird, on tour last summer. I shot over 100 Polaroids in the two weeks I was with them along with video and still shots. A printed piece has been in the works for a while and I’ll let you guys know when it’s finished. Very excited about it.
I have a lot of film cameras that I play around with, and do personal projects with.

I know you go back and forth between Texas and New York, could you discuss your reasons for doing this a bit?
I grew up mainly in Texas and have lived there since graduating college. I first visited NYC two years ago on a last minute trip. There is a huge market here, and I see this city as a place to pursue my foreign interests as directly as I can from the U.S. I have amazing clients in Dallas that I want to continue working with a well, so I found that working in both cities was a great fit for me career wise. There are extremely talented creatives in Dallas and the city’s art culture is really taking off. It is an exciting time to be connected there. There is a strong Texas presence in NYC. I have many friends who have moved here, and several of my favorite stylists and makeup artists are Texas transplants.

There are extremely talented creatives in Dallas and the city’s art culture is really taking off

Do you have someone you look up to in the field?
I have had several teachers and photographers guide me and push me along. Dallas specifically has been an incredible place to learn and grow. I have been very fortunate to work along side extremely talented and kind photographers. People want to help you. You have to remember that.

Do you have a dream assignment?
I have many. I would love to shoot a catalog for Anthropologie and Free People, do a piece on Iceland for National Geographic, as well as document Sufjan Stevens’ next tour. I photographed his Age of Adz tour performances in both Dallas and Brooklyn, and they were both incredible. I would love to join the Cousteau family on a sea adventure and document that as well.
How do you stay motivated?
The girls in my sorority in college joked about never seeing me without a camera. It’s true. I love what I do. It is internal and my desire to express myself through photography is pretty strong.
Was there one project that gave you that “ah ha” moment, where you knew this is where you wanted to take your work?
There was a point that I decided I was going to photograph things of interest to me, even if that meant I was hustling all week and shooting nonstop in my spare time. Once I started doing that and posting it, I began to get requests for similar paid assignments. That process was a huge “ah ha” moment for me. I will continue in that way.

Do you have any favorite photo books?
Can I count Tina Fey’s book, Bossypants as a photo book? Laura Wilson’s Hutterites of Montana is a favorite. She is the photographer that documented Richard Avedon when he was shooting “The American West.” I remember contacting her when I first moved to Dallas because I wanted to meet her and learn from her. About a year after emailing and calling her rep and not getting a response, I realized that she was Luke and Owen Wilson’s mother, and why I never got a response. Laura, if you’re reading this, I would still love to meet you and hear your stories, and I am not after your sons.

What was the most helpful part of your ‘education’ that wasn’t photo related?
Connecting with people is the most important and helpful part of my ‘education’ that was not photo related. Life doesn’t make sense without relationships. I work with people who have stories, and great depth. I connect with the people that I’m photographing. It makes a difference. I learn so much from the people that I come in contact with. Letting your subjects tell their stories will translate through the photos.

Connecting with people is the most important and helpful part of my ‘education’ that was not photo related

What are you inspired by?
Music definitely inspires me. I often have thoughts or ideas of shoots or movement by the particular music I am listening to. I’m also inspired by a variety of people and environments. Wes Anderson’s genius is inspiring as well as Tim Walker, and I think that I have whimsical dream inside me like that.

I like the grit and dirt of life as well, and maybe it’s just my generation, but I am inspired by life as it really is.
I am inspired by people who are passionate about life or passionate about what they do, or actively working to change things for the better, and those that have compassion for people, for the human spirit.

As Jack Kerouac wrote in one of my most favourite books, On the Road, “They danced down the streets like dingledodies, and I shambled after as I’ve been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!”

People inspire me. The human condition inspires me and motivates me. In the depth of depravity there is great hope.

People inspire me. The human condition inspires me and motivates me

How do you define ‘success’ in your own career?
I define success as quality of life. That means relationships and living. My day to day life is enjoyable and challenging. At the end of the day I believe that I am working hard, and I do not think that the work I’m doing is changing the world. I think I express beauty and show the reality of the world.

What’s next? Any exciting projects coming up in 2012?
I moved to NYC in May to pursue more editorial, lifestyle and fashion work. I will be splitting my time shooting in both Texas and NYC. I have been working on a book of some of the subjects that I have photographed. I would like to get that finished this year. I have some projects on the horizon in LA and in Europe.

We all are dying to know, how did you get the Anthropologie gig?


The short and sweet of it is that I was contacted by a scout. Being at the Mothership was certainly a dream. I shot their online merchandise in studio. That was so much fun because I got to see all the beautiful apparel and shoes before anyone else had seen them. I met their copywriter as well who names and describes all the clothing. Fantastic job. I was there for a week shooting and stayed in their bed and breakfast on the Navy Yard – which is completely decorated with Anthropologie bedding, furniture, EVERYTHING. I am looking forward to opportunities to work with the company again.

For more information about the Anthropologie shoot, check out Sara’s blog post.

Favorite fried chicken?

I have two places that are relatively new to Dallas that I have frequented and have photographed both places; Sissy’s and Chicken Scratch. Go there.

Favorite breakfast taco?
Taco Joint. They have my heart. Jalapeno ranch! It’s incredible. Plus everyone that works there is so welcoming and they remember your name.

Favorite libation?
Drink specifically – Anything with gin in it. Place to get drinks depends on the night. School night: Strangeways and the Windmill. Weekend: The Gin Mill, The Londoner (also great fish ‘n chips). Mimosas: Smoke – they make them right and they are bottomless.

Do you collect anything?
Dresses perhaps. I also at one point had 4 copies of Settlers of Catan – all the same 483 Mayfair version. Klaus Teuber has a hold on me. I have since narrowed it down to just one copy with the expansion pack as well.

Any hobbies outside of photography?
I make notes of inefficient traffic areas or lights and make reports to the city. I also collect those paper miniature scale models of iconic city buildings and monuments and never actually put them together, even though I promise that I will. I also love to watch dance movies. I cannot wait until this summer for Step Up 4 Miami: Come for the Sun, Stay for the Heat. Please tell me that MTV contacted you and that I will be spending one day on the set of Missy Elliott’s music video learning the choreography.

 

thomdip

Thom Jackson started as a disc jockey but has now worked as a photographer for almost every fashion magazine under the sun.

What was your first camera?
Yashica Twin Lens Reflex

Do you remember the first photo you took that got you “hooked”?
Not the first subject but most significantly the first print that appeared in the developer tray. I’ve never gotten over the magic of that moment. It’s hard to imagine there are photographers shooting today who have never had that experience.

What are your go to cameras?
Canon 5DMarkIII and Nikon D800.

Your favorite cameras you have experimented with in the past? 
Hasselblad CM  and the SX 70 Polaroid.

Once I saw the movie Blow Up I was convinced photography was my next career

How did you get started?
Working as a DJ for a radio station, I photographed every band (press pass!) that came to town. Once I saw the movie Blow Up I was convinced photography was my next career.

Do you always have music going on a photo shoot? Are there any go-to songs?
Yes. The music varies according to the shoot. Recently we’ve played mixes from David Dann, models frequently bring in music from friends’ bands or clients have favorite music. It’s a collaborative thing.

As someone who has recently started working more with models, I am curious as a photographer how you go about the photo shoot and creating a connection. Is there anything you do to make your models feel more comfortable at a shoot?
I talk to them while they are getting hair and make up in order to establish a relationship and a comfort level between the two of us. While shooting I try to create a bond between us that blocks out all the activity in the studio that can be disruptive. It was much easier to accomplish this before digital. The stopping and looking at the screen is often frustrating for both of us. It breaks the flow of shooting and the mood can be lost.

What has been your best career decision?
1st becoming a photographer, 2nd living in and shooting in New York City for 18 years.

Do you think that it is essential to live in New York or LA to “make it” in the fashion world?  New York, yes. Living and working in New York City and Europe is essential for success. It provides the experience and a frame of reference for all things important to photography. I can’t imagine not having that experience.

What is your favorite thing about photographing in Texas?
The positive attitude of the crew. Everyone works hard but we still have fun.

What was your first big break?
The selection of two of my nudes for a fine art book “The Nude In Photography.” My first commercial break
was shooting the Neiman Marcus Fur Book in Germany, Estonia, Scandinavia, and Russia.

How did you establish your personal vision?
Shooting in Italy every summer for Italian Bazaar and Vogue was a huge part of my education. Having the opportunity to photograph top models in the collections as they were introduced was an incredible experience. I hope my personal vision comes through in my current work at Craighead Green Gallery.

Who are you inspired by?
At one time I would have said this photographer or that photographer but in the long run it’s really my family, especially my wife Rebecca.

Do you have any favorite photo books?
I’m currently printing my own platinum/ palladium prints so I’m researching the process and looking at prints.

How do you define ‘success’ in your own career? 
Success comes with the next photograph.

What’s next?
I found I really enjoy doing video. After directing and shooting two Burning Hotels music videos and a fashion video with Lydia Hearst for models.com, I plan to do more.

How did you get involved with the Impossible Project?
Like most great opportunities I fell into it. I submitted some of my Impossible Project Polaroids to them
and they asked me to test some of their new films which led to be included in their current New York show “Momentum.” I was also featured on their blog in December and I will be featured again this week as An Artist in Residence. They really are a great group to work with and the restart of the Polaroid product is an interesting and ambitious story.

Do you have a preference for working with film or digital?
Advantages and disadvantages to both. Honestly, I don’t miss the fear of waiting for clip tests to come back after returning from a two week assignment on an island in the middle of nowhere. It is great to know with digital we have the shot.

 I don’t miss the fear of waiting for clip tests to come back after returning from a two week assignment on an island in the middle of nowhere

How did you get your foot in the door photographing for fashion magazines?
I had a NY rep and also one in Italy. They got me in the door and fortunately the magazines liked my work. It was a great opportunity.

Can you elaborate a little on how you found representation? Do you think it is essential?
In order to get top representation, you have to have existing clients that you bring to the agency. It’s all about who you know and who knows you. It is absolutely essential.

Where do you go to keep up with what is happening in fashion photography? Do you buy fashion magazines? Any favorites?
I study everything. When I was starting out I spent a fortune on foreign fashion magazines like Italian Vogue, French Vogue, Marie Claire and many more. Now it’s mainly online publications, fashion blogs, and gallery and museum websites.

 When I was starting out I spent a fortune on foreign fashion magazines

I saw that you have some videos on your site. Do you think it is important to incorporate video into your portfolio these days as a photographer?
Video is an expensive, consuming, but essential part of the business. You can’t ignore it or avoid it.

Favorite bbq?
Baker’s Ribs

Favorite breakfast taco?
Good 2 Go

Favorite libation?
Gin and Tonic (Sapphire and Tonic actually)

© Amy V. Cooper

Amy, tell me a bit about how you came to a career in advertising and photography. Did you go to college for either of these fields?
I studied fashion design at Louisiana State University, which included studies in marketing and merchandising but I fell in love with photography towards the end of my studies there. After I earned my B.S. I applied to Parsons in New York City. I joined the AAS program and studied photography and graphic design until my internship with Elle Décor led to a full time job working as an assistant photo editor under Quintana Roo Dunne. Two years later I was hired as the photo editor at MTV.com and started shooting professionally on the side. During that time I also took some continuing education courses in film and NYU and photo editing at ICP.

I left MTV after 7 years to become a fulltime freelance photographer. A few years later I decided I was ready to head back south and moved to Austin, TX. After 6 months of looking for work I realized that in Austin, advertising agencies are where creatives earn the better salaries. I took a job I had never heard of before but seemed to fit my experience; digital asset manager.

Did you have any mentors along the way?
I had the most incredible teachers at Parsons, specifically Charles Harbutt who was at one time the president of Magnum. My fashion design instructors at LSU, Yvonne Marquette-Leak and Pamela Rabalais, were very supportive of my fashion photography interests and allowed me to earn credit for independent studies in fashion photography as a part of my curriculum.

As far as career mentors, Quintana taught me everything I know about being a photo editor (and when not to answer the phone!) Working with some established reps and photographers early on in my photo-editing career, like Michael Muller and the late great Fernando Bengoechea, who kindly let me under their wings, was incredible as well.

a lot of what I know I had to learn the hard way

But honestly, a lot of what I know I had to learn the hard way. When I started at MTV, I was given no direction and had to make up all the rules on my own, which was terrifying and awesome.
I’ve also learned a lot about rights management and art buying from some very kind and patient account reps at Getty and other agencies.

Tell us a bit about what it means to be an art buyer and digital asset manager. I think photographers look at the lists of people working at agencies and they are overwhelmed, they don’t know which person is actually the one to hire people. How does it work at T3, are you suggesting people to the creative director? Are you hiring people? Are you licensing work?
I think the role of art buyer and digital asset manager varies from agency to agency. I have a ton of production experience so sometimes the creative directors ask me for suggestions on who to hire, others choose photographers on their own and just ask me to help with contracts. I have sourced the majority of the photographers since I’ve been working at T3 but the final decision is always with the creative director.

Most of our stock licensing is directly through the stock agencies but every now and then we will find something on Flickr or elsewhere on the web and contact the photographer directly to license an image.
We have worked with some very talented Texas photographers since I’ve been at T3, Cody Hamilton, Dave Mead, Andrew Yates and Lee Kirgan to name a few. I’m dying to shoot with LeAnn Mueller. I would love to see more women photographers in our roster.

“Digital Asset Manager” is a relatively new role in advertising and few agencies have them, they may be a part of the creative team or they may be in more of an IT role. So if you are a photographer trying to get someone’s attention and you have a limited number of stamps, stick with the creative directors and then the art buyers. Or just call the main number for the agency you are interested in and ask.

I often hear from art buyers that they prefer to only work with photographers who have reps. Do you feel that way?
Not necessarily, but unless I have worked with a photographer in the past, I prefer to go with someone who has representation although I don’t really meet many photographers in Austin with reps. It’s such a small ad world in Texas, it is usually pretty easy to find someone within the agency who can vouch for a local photographer. Word of mouth is really important, probably more so than having a rep. Usually a photographer’s website and client list will say a lot about them as well.

Word of mouth is really important, probably more so than having a rep

What percentage of shoots for T3 happen in Texas? How often are you hiring Texas photographers?
The majority of shoots that we produce are done in Austin, Texas. T3 hires about 3-4 Texas photographers a year depending on what is going on. Some years are more creative-heavy and others are more digital-production-heavy for our agency.

You are an accomplished photographer yourself, and because of your role at T3, I think you have a unique perspective on the industry and what it takes to make it as a commercial photographer. What advice do you have for people who want to be shooting ad campaigns?
Thank you. Knowing all sides of the fence is definitely a plus, having hired and been hired for all kinds of editorial and advertising work gives me an advantage in understanding projects and being able to fairly negotiate contracts for the clients as well as the photographers.

My advice to those who want to work in this industry is to have a strong, clean and simple website with your best work, and work that represents what you want to be shooting. If you want to shoot a big campaign for clients like Gap or Apple, show bright, bold, sharp images in your portfolio. Lose the 25 dark blurry pictures of your college roommate. Only show your best work, edit, edit, edit. Take advantage of social media and network every chance you get but be humble as well, don’t over do it.

Only show your best work, edit, edit, edit

What annoys you when it comes to photographers marketing themselves to you? What works for you?
What annoys me is when I get promos from photographers that are poorly printed or have pictures of subjects that have absolutely nothing to do with any of the clients that my company works for. Know your audience. Don’t just throw all your fish food into the ocean. Photographers should figure out what agency they want to catch and what the right bait is. I think the more opportunities you have to personalize your marketing, the more impact it will make although that is not always affordable- it’s true what they say, most of those materials end up in the trash.

Cold calls are also bad, mail or email first. Dropping by an agency without an appointment is usually seen as too aggressive.

What inspires you in your own photography?
I’ve been pretty lucky to have a lot of really beautiful, strong, talented and inspiring girlfriends in my life. Fashion inspires me. Light, film, décor, dogs, art, social injustice. Other photographers inspire me, Sally Mann, Ellen von Unwerth, Danny Clinch. Art books, fashion blogs and magazines are a huge source of inspiration as well.

What’s your favorite thing about shooting in Texas?
I love shooting in Texas because everyone is laid back, usually in a good mood, and the weather is often agreeable (in Austin anyway.) There are also many different landscapes, climates and types of architecture in Texas. I know that has been said before but it’s so true. Shooting here is just easier. All the logistics and permits you need to shoot in a big city like New York or Los Angeles can really dampen the creative process sometimes.

Shooting here is just easier

You’re a vegetarian right? Where do you take out-of-towners to eat when you want to give them a nice dose of Austin without the requisite BBQ?
I was heading in that direction before I met my boyfriend, The BBQ Sauce King (he owns Stellar Gourmet Foods), now it’s pretty much BBQ party time in our back yard year round. I would say our guests get some requisite homemade brisket and elote but if we aren’t cooking we like to take out-of-towners to East Side Café, Chuy’s, Torchy’s and of course, Uchiko.

Favorite weekend getaway?
Fishing on the Gulf or a shopping + art weekend in Dallas/Fort Worth. I like to crash at my Uncle D’s place in Duncanville, we stay up late and listen to his stories about growing up in Hitchcock, Texas with my dad and his other siblings.

Speaking of uncles, an interesting side story- I got my first camera from my dad, it was an Olympus OM1 but it had originally belonged to my Uncle Mike. He was a photographer for the Texas State Senate before becoming Governor Preston Smith’s photographer in the late 1960s (although he was shooting with a Mamiya 23 at the time.) I would tell you to interview him but all of his photos went with Governor Smith’s papers, now in a collection at Texas Tech. “An abundance of grip and grins.”

Favorite libation?
My boyfriend’s mint-infused simple syrup mojitos or anything at Péché in Austin.

Favorite breakfast taco?
We make our own breakfast tacos every morning! The key ingredient is Central Market’s fresh whole-wheat tortillas. You really can’t get a bad breakfast taco in Austin but Torchy’s or Whole Foods is where I usually go if I’m on the run or catering a photo shoot.