Articles Archive for May 2010
Shooting video is something I’m trying to make a routine part of going out on assignment, even if I’m just supposed to be taking photos or writing a short article.
Will is getting ready to apply for the Eddie Adams workshop, a super exclusive and prestigious four-day retreat of 100 photographers who are either students or have less than three years professional experience. The deadline is Friday so I sent Will’s photo submission to a couple of friends, Danny Ghitis and Celia Tobin, who both have gone.
A week ago I was in Sequoia National Park – taking photos like always – but new to me was the experience of recording video footage with my Canon 5D MKII.
As an assistant, there are a lot of hats you have to wear. Errand runner, light setter, gaffer tape expert. Sometimes being a model is one of these hats.
I spent the last three days setting up lights (and then sitting under them) for a photo shoot with some suitcases. There are some photos of me pulling a girl around in a suitcase but let’s save that for another time.
As an assistant, there are a lot of hats you have to wear. Errand runner, light setter, gaffer tape expert. Sometimes being a model is one of these hats. I…
It looks like Jackie spent the month partying with her friends and playing with ironic culture debris.
We missed March’s peer review, primarily because it was miserable in the city and I didn’t have any assignments or inspirations. By the looks of April, Will probably had a lovely March that we will never get to see. Good thing we are back in action with New York warming up!
I have been doing a lot of onsite teaching for my studio as of late. Tonight I will be in the basement of the Metropolitan during the Met Gala, furiously downloading cards, editing and sending out choice shots (I’ve got my eye on you, Maya Arulpragasam).
Tomorrow will be very similar but with me working the Time 100. A few weeks ago, however, I did a more traditional gig and worked on a set of a lookbook for Judith Leiber that my bossman was shooting. If you don’t recognize that label, it’s probably because you don’t have three grand to drop on a purse. That’s alright, I don’t either.
Everything was done very sporadically and casual. Friends of the designer and art director modeled the new line at a dinner party thrown specifically for the shoot at the restaurant where my boss is part owner. Not having a stylized set was a bit of a headache, with me screeching that there were far too many glasses of water blocking the purses and ugly half-eaten plates ruining perfectly good shots, but my boss does au-natural best after all his years of shooting parties. So.
I sat just outside the shoot with a computer and a card reader. Sure, this is a little less formal than a setup like this one:
But on this particular shoot, the restaurant remained open and I had diners sitting mere feet away from me during the first portion of the shoot. A setup like that would have been too intrusive (and big!).
See how cramped we were? No room! That’s me sitting with the art director and photo assistant looking on as I go through some shots. The heads poking out of the assistant’s back are paying guests who looked bewildered at the flashes going on next to them. However, notice the food? I was fed whatever was on set and let me tell you–it was all sorts of wonderful.
Here is the Sundance write up I also did for my boss’s weekly blog about the shoot (I was unstoppable).
I don’t think tonight will be as casual. And I definitely don’t expect to get fed. Wish me luck.
I have been doing a lot of onsite teaching for my studio as of late. Tonight I will be in the basement of the Metropolitan during the Met Gala, furiously…
For the past two and a half months, I’ve been interning at Via, AAA’s travel magazine for Northern California, Nevada, Utah, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Alaska. On top of adding several new destinations to my travel list, I’ve already learned a lot about magazine production, from pitching and assigning stories through the various levels of editing, and I hope to share my discoveries over the next few months.
During my first few days of work, I learned that it’s nearly impossible for freelancers to get feature pitches accepted at Via (you have a better chance of getting accepted to Harvard). There are a number of reasons for this, including the magazine’s bi-monthly frequency and small size, the fact that editors map out feature stories as much as a year in advance, because the magazine has grown to depend on a group of tried-and-true veteran freelancers who are given regular assignments, and because it’s very rare that you and I have heard of a must-see destination that a travel magazine editor has not.
A new writer’s best bet is to pitch the front-of-the-book section called On the Road, which includes short travel-related roundups, interviews, hotel and museum openings, neighborhood rundowns, etc. I sat down with the On the Road editor, Dan Warrick, last week and he shared some tips on pitching etiquette.
Forget the old model: cover letter, attached queries, full set of clips, and a stamped, self-addressed envelope. Send an email instead.
Call the magazine to get the email address of the best person to send pitches to (it’s very unprofessional to send an email blast to every editor on staff!) Ask for the writer’s guidelines and what issue is being assigned. Then pitch to a later issue.
In your first email, introduce yourself quickly. It doesn’t matter whether you start or end with your bio; you just need to sell your idea and you as a writer. Have a specialty? Say so.
Show that you’ve read the magazine. Small gestures like “for your trailblazer section” will let an editor know that you’re planning on the magazine’s own terms and not just striving to sell a story on a cherished topic.
Make up your mind. Shotgun-blast pitches with loads of scattered ideas will just overwhelm an editor. Focus on one section and don’t pitch more than five topics at once.
Keep your pitches brief but dense with relevant detail. Research just enough to sound authoritative, compose your pitch, then go back and cut needless words.
Don’t play peekaboo with key facts. It’s unlikely that a magazine will steal your idea and if you’re unwilling to spell out the details of your idea, you won’t have a chance of landing the assignment. Give away the good stuff.
Write well. Match the length and depth of the pitch to the kind of assignment you’re hoping to get (e.g., don’t write hundreds of words for a piece that will run very short in the magazine). Show–with active verbs and precise nouns–that you’re in control of the language.
Don’t try too hard. You don’t have to compose snappy headlines or cute come-ons. Lead with strong facts and keep the blurbs tight.
Proofread, or get someone else to proofread for you. Giving an appearance of grammatical ignorance or simple sloppiness is a fatal mistake.
Attach just a few clips that are most relevant to what the magazine prints. Be sure they’re clear and easy to read. Live web links are an alternative.
Cite your blog or Web site only if it’s elegantly designed, cogently composed, and wholly up to date. Remember, you’re trying to get an editor to trust you. If your last entry was a year ago–or even four months ago–skip it.
Of course, underlying it all is your idea, which must wow an editor while fitting the magazine’s scope. Even OTR receives hundreds of proposals annually but only has the ability to assign a dozen or so freelance pieces every two months–less than 100 a year. Most assignments are between 100 and 200 words, so don’t get your hopes up too high, but hey it’s a start. Read the magazine, read the magazine, read the magazine (and in Via’s case get out there and explore) and you’ll be on your way to successful pitching.
For the past two and a half months, I’ve been interning at Via, AAA’s travel magazine for Northern California, Nevada, Utah, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Alaska. On top of adding several…