Business & Pleasure; A Commercial/Creative Balancing Act Page 2
SB: What are you working on now?
JM: About 10 years ago I started shooting the urban landscapes of my childhood, here in Los Angeles and in Europe, particularly Italy where I spent many teen-age years. For me, it was about looking back at a vanishing landscape. The Los Angeles images have turned into several shows and traveling exhibits. "On The Sunny Side of the Street: Polaroid Images from Los Angeles" and "Let's Get Lost: An Exhibition of Photographs from Los Angeles" will be in London in October of 2008.
SB: What inspired you to pursue personal work as part of your photographic business?
JM: All of this is because it is increasingly difficult to get hired on a regular basis to shoot assignments. At one time I was shooting for People magazine three days a week. Now, so much of that business has gone away, and my interests as an artist have changed. I want to spend more time doing what I like; commercial work is so much about pleasing others and being popular. Personal work is about letting yourself go. I like to do both. I shoot for myself almost constantly. Several years ago I began to concentrate on selling prints. That has become the majority of my focus. It's very satisfying.
SB: I am curious, what inspired you to present this as a
JM: A lot of things have changed dramatically in photography over the years with lots of photographers asking this question--what can I succeed at? This question has led me to pursue my personal style and create my own vision and since I find that is far more marketable for me, I was asked to share my story.
SB: What marketing tactics do you recommend to find clients for both commercial and personal work?
JM: First, I have to make the images to market so I think a lot about how to take pictures that I have not taken before. For my personal work, I try to get them in front of people by showing the work in a public setting, having exhibitions and marketing the exhibitions. This business is also publication-driven so I recommend you find a way to create a body of work and then get it published.
After that, all the usual things you do for marketing. Really, there is only
one answer: knocking on doors. I use e-mail, post cards, press releases, sponsorship
from both corporate or collectors, taking people to lunches. One of my best
marketing stories was a deal closed sitting next to someone at the opera: I
was at the Opera in Los Angeles and by this time had photographed many artists
for my books California Painters: New Work and The Art of Light and Space. I
realized sitting at the Opera that the person next to me was the great artist
I introduced myself and told him how much I liked his work. I told him that I was a photographer and asked if I could do a portrait. He said yes, but that I would have to do it the next day. So the next day I went to Gemini G.E.L. in Los Angeles where he was working and took the portrait. I had to be flexible enough to pull together a shoot for the next day. I had to be willing to put myself out there even when I was not "working." If I had not asked him on the spot when he was sitting right there next to me I would probably never have that opportunity again. I do everything I can think of to get the work and then to get the work out there.