Over the past 15+ years, I’ve put my heart and soul into the magazine and publishing industry. My most recent gig was as Rodale Publishing/Runner’s World Magazine’s Photo Editor. But if you haven’t already heard, I’ve recently decided to take my career in a slight different direction. Between earning my bachelor’s degree in photography and working as a photo editor, I’ve always felt personally close to the photography world. Working as a consultant at Agency Access means I get to directly help you – the photographer - advance your career. So I figured I’d give you some first-hand, working knowledge on my life as a photo editor, and where I stand now as a consultant. Enjoy!
10 Things to Know About Me as a Former Photo Editor
1. Keep it personal. I always preferred personalized, quick handwritten notes on a promo card, book or card. It shows great etiquette and was hard to throw away!)
2. Get a meeting. Most management-level photo/art directors are always in meetings within a publication; when they come up for air, they often won’t have time to meet. It was always my rule to have another photo team member try and meet up if I could not. The “second-in-command” – possibly the associate photo editor - is often times the eyes and ears of the department. Don’t overlook them as an opportunity for pitching your name to the hiring powers - they do make pitches and your name may very well be on their list! (Once the photographer arrived, I normally pop in to say hello quickly and introduce myself.)
3. Write (or blog) about it. When I traveled around for cover shoots, I carried Moleskine mini-journals in my bag to document my photo shoots/travel/adventures/sketches etc.
© Andrea Maurio Moleskin journal
4. Ask politely, you never know! I remember being on a cover shoot for Runner’s World Magazine with Lance Armstrong and he showed up with long basketball shorts. I had to politely ask him to switch to some “above the knee” running shorts since this was a cover. His stylist said he absolutely wouldn’t, but he did. Thanks Lance!
© Michael Lavine, Runner's World
5. Roll with the punches. My most memorable PE moment: My car breaking down in the Lincoln Tunnel (mind you it was during morning rush hour after a cover shoot the next morning).
6. Surprise me. I loved getting “surprise schwag” in the mail as a thank you for assignments - especially when it was anything caffeinated. You don’t really need to break the bank! One photographer, James Farrell, had sent the photo team some homemade cookies. Did he stay on our “photo department radar,” you betcha!
7. Stay in-touch. A last minute cover shoot came up a few days before the Christmas holiday. After the shoot, I ate sushi at my hotel’s restaurant before boarding my red eye back to the East Coast. On my flight - at an altitude that they weren’t going to turn around for me - I became deathly ill with food poisoning. Needless to say, it was the longest flight of my life. The photographer from the shoot heard the news and sent me flowers and the most hilarious, yet thoughtful get well note:
© Andrea Maurio
8. Enjoy traveling. My favorite places to stay while traveling for a photo shoots were always boutique-style hotels. Typically they were in walking distance and centrally located to all things hip in a city after a long day of shooting. Just to name a few: in Portland (Ace Hotel), Santa Barbara (Hotel Santa Barbara) Austin (Kimber Modern ) San Diego, (Tower 23)
9. Espresso or Red Bulls please. Most photo editors and creatives work an insane amount of hours to meet publication deadlines, make sure to supply them with #6 (caffeine). They will remember.
© Andrea Maurio
10. It’s all in the family. My siblings are all working creatives!! My sister Maria is a fashion designer and Nina’s a sports & prop stylist.
11. One extra. This past December I received a “very smashed” holiday gift in my office inbox. It was delivered in a semi-padded 8x10 white envelope, with no return address. I was immediately suspicious. (Hmmm, was I naughty or Nice?) Inside was a mess full of broken shards of glass, which all fell out and on to my desk. The suspicions continued until I realized a very angry postal worker was simply following the packaging directions: “fragile/handle with care!” Lesson learned photographers: Nice thought, but best to package breakables in a box!
12. I fibbed, two extras. I collect vintage postcards, especially the ones from the 60’s.
Gratitude goes along way! If you couldn’t tell, I REALLY believe in gratitude! I always appreciated receiving thank you notes (I only mentioned it in three of my top “10”!) It’s puzzling how some of the photographers that landed some of the feature assignments never really sent a thank you, but the photographers who shot smaller assignments - with limited cash flow – did take the time (take note!).
10 Things to Know About Me as a Creative Consultant
1. Insider” advice. I like to think of the knowledge I’ve gained from my past work experiences as “insider” advice: knowledge that’s not readily available to the public. It’s something I will use to improve the way you approach new clients.
2. It’s a keeper. Ever wonder what types of promotional materials creatives keep? I’ve saved all my favorite, eye-catching promotions and definitely plan on using them to inspire you to create a promotional “keeper” that shows off you and your brand.
3. Always smile. I have a great sense of humor and wit – and prefer to use it if and whenever possible. Hope you do too!
4. Maintain focus. My job is not just to be an open book of MY real-world experiences to facilitate your growth as a pro photographer, but also to help you focus in on YOUR goals. So for example, I’ll help you work through your scattered ideas for thank you and promo gifts ideas, this way your client doesn’t wind up with shards of broken glass! (See above #11)
5. Be mindful. Most photo editors and creatives are constantly strapped for time. Something like a slow-loading, hard-to-navigate website will typically lead them to say, “Next.”
6. Be proud. Appearing outdated and inconsistent are your worst enemies. From keeping your website up to date, to selecting images for your marketing plan that are in-line with your brand, to actually touching-base with clients on a quarterly basis, I want to make sure you clearly indicate that you are constantly and consistently investing in your photography business. Portraying pride in yourself allows clients to think, “Hey, I bet they’ll treat this assignment they way they treat their business, top priority.”
7. Sources of inspiration are everywhere. Take for example, your competition’s website. You’ve researched the clients you want to work for, why not research your competition too! Together we will narrow in on what you may be or feel you are lacking and use that to give you a competitive edge.
8. Stay positive and balanced. You do your best work when you’re happy. Maybe it’s editing images at your local Starbucks or going out for a surf session or a yoga class, just find something that keeps you energized for a productive work day. My chocolate lab, Nalu, sits by my side during my consults and reminds me to get up and go for a walk in between consults.
© Andrea Maurio, Nalu the lab.
9. Keep on track. Just like sending a short and friendly email to stay on a client’s radar (see #7 from my PE top 10), shooting me a short and concise email is the most efficient way to check in with me and ensure you are staying on tracking with your marketing. I remember back in my PE days, I had just walked out of an art meeting, ready to assign a new project. Low and behold a friendly email in my inbox popped up from Jason Tanaka Blaney, the very photographer I was thinking would be perfect for the new project for us. Here’s Jason’s tear sheet from the shoot with Runner's World for its June 2012 issue.
© Jason Tanaka Blaney, Runner's World
10. Espresso or Red Bull please. Some things never change!
Here’s what I have to offer as a new creative consultant: The people who I learned from in my photo editing career were not always the one’s that said what I wanted to hear. They did however provide constructive feedback. Once I sat with some of their suggestions and applied some of their advice, I grew in leaps and bounds! I feel that this is the best approach for me as a creative consultant to artists.
As former photo editor, I can honestly say that I have honed my skills as a mentor by managing and overseeing others on my team. I wanted to make sure I could help them succeed and build their careers – like my mentors did for me - by setting goals and offering advice. The same principles ring true for working with photographers. I have always been passionate about photography and filmmaking since I attended college at the Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara, California. So I do understand the emotional side of the photographer, film maker and even illustrator. I want to see others succeed in their chosen visual field and guide them with my photo business expertise. I like the idea of being a “photo mentor”!