|Posted by Peter Digby on July 19, 2013 at 2:35 PM||comments (3)|
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|Posted by Peter Digby on May 30, 2012 at 11:45 PM||comments (0)|
A photographer's most important tool is her portfolio, and this is particularly true for beginners who don't have an established reputation.
"Having been around, I know how hard it is to get in the door," says Allure magazine photo editor Clio McNicholl, who receives around 50 unsolicited portfolios a month. Conde Nast's Allure, with a monthly circulation of almost 900,000, is a prime target for beginners wanting to get their work seen. "If I don't know who the person is, I ask them to send me some promotional material. Generally I only see people who are coming with a direct recommendation from somebody I know," she says.
Many photographers find that websites offer an inexpensive way to showcase a relatively large quantity of images. Eva Mueller (www.evamueller.com), a Munich-born fashion and beauty photographer who has been living and working in Manhattan for ten years, points out that computer editing is also a method of keeping down retouching and printing costs.
But despite the medium's advantages, most industry professionals will still need to see an old-fashioned book before they hire you. By all means use the web as your calling card, but have something to show them when they call you in for a meeting.
Many fashion photographers find the sharp, bright imaging of 4 x 5" transparencies show off their work to best effect. Tear-sheets (literally, pages ripped from a magazine) are great if you've been published, but good quality, 8 x 10" prints are also OK. Have at least 20 in your book, and be prepared to leave them for at least a week.
"I like to see a common thread throughout the book," says Clio McNicholl, who says she can tell within three images whether she likes a photographer's style. "Tell a story: not necessarily having all the pictures relating to each other, but I like to have some sort of sense at the end of it that I've seen that photographer's personality come through in the pictures."
The images you choose to showcase in your portfolio should be thematically linked to the job you're trying to get – still-lifes or product shots if you're going for an advertising gig, for example. But also throw in one or two other images to demonstrate your range. Strong portraits are always a safe bet, as they tend to stay in the mind of the viewer.
Once you've got your portfolio together, the next challenge is to get the picture editor to use you.
"Most people who cold call me haven't done their research, which is the world's biggest mistake," says Clio McNicholl. "The single biggest thing that people should do is their research. They should know what the magazine does, and see how you can apply that to what you do. And they should at least know the name of the photo editor."
When you submit work to photo editors, remember that you're "showing" rather than "selling". Editors almost never buy the specific image they see before them; they're looking for a photographer who can execute future commissions. You'll need to be persistent in sending out your work, and ruthless in editing what you choose to show.
The best way to grab an editor's attention is to show previously published work. But there's a down-side. "Because there's such an over-supply of photographers, a lot of magazines really take advantage of that fact," says Eva Mueller. "Some mags have a decent budget, but a lot of magazines just cover your expenses, they don't pay for your time or anything. And a lot of magazines don't pay at all." McNicholl says Allure's rates start at $350 a day for unknown photographers, up to $130,000 for a fashion spread.
A photograph is a document just as much as an article or an essay, and picture editors are looking for concise images which clearly communicate an idea or an emotion. Celebrity portraiture, for example, should reveal an aspect of the subject's character, preferably one that is in harmony with the accompanying written profile. Women's magazines all over the world buy hundred of stock shots every month – typically young women having fun with their boyfriends, hanging out with friends, or maybe moping home alone with their stuffed toys – all of which express a sentiment commonly dealt with in feature articles. If your work speaks clearly, you'll stand a much better chance with picture editors than with vague or ambiguous images.
When you're submitting your work, remember:
Photo agencies exist to liaise with clients and sell photographers' work on their behalf. They benefit everyone from start-out photographers, who may not have many industry contacts, to seasoned professionals, who are too busy to take care of business dealings themselves.
Gloria Cappelletti is an agent with the Management Artists' Organization (MSO) in Manhattan, which represents a stable of prominent fashion photographers including Stevein Klein, Michelangelo di Battista, Stefan Sedanoui and Alexei Hay.
"First of all, it's vital to be known, and an agency is in daily contact with clients and publications," she says. "That's the best way for a young photographer to be able to have a connection with them, because usually the photographer is busy taking pictures, and the agent is busy talking to clients. And that's the way it should be. Usually the photographer doesn't have enough time to take care of everything."
Agencies can also re-sell your work in several different markets, acting as a mini publicist and giving career advice. There are so many agencies – and so many photographers – that Cappelletti says it's important to research which one may be right for you before making an approach.
"The young photographer has to understand their target, in terms of their personal goals the direction the photographer wants to take," she says. "Everyone is different."
Agents recommend treating your first contact with them as seriously as if it were a job interview. You should also consider whether they already represent someone whose style is significantly similar to your own – there may not be enough work for both of you, and the other photographer could resent the competition.
A photo agency is not the only place that can sell your work. If you're more interested in concentrating on your personal vision than taking commercial work, you can also considering exhibiting in a fine art photography gallery.
Once derided as a scientific curiosity with no artistic value, photographs are now one of the hottest growth areas in the international fine art market.
While gelatin silver prints are the staple of fine art photography, you'll find a healthy interest both in contemporary photos using antique methods (such as Chuck Close's daguerreotypes), as well as modern printing methods, including Cibachromes and C-prints.
Like any artistic undertaking, art photography is unlikely to pay you a living wage for many years. Although many artists sell their work directly from the Internet, critical attention and the strongest sales come from a relationship with a Gallery. While there is now at least one photo gallery in most major cities, the center of the world art photo market is New York. Manhattan boasts around 100 galleries dealing in photographic prints, and prices there tend to be strongest. A comprehensive list of New York and international galleries is available at the websites of the bimonthly listings guide Photograph, as well as the Association of International Photography Art Dealers.
Before approaching any gallery with your work, you should telephone and request details of their submissions policy. Many galleries review new work only at set times of the year, and even to get in the door of some places you will need the recommendation of somebody known to the gallery directors. (Sometimes it helps to drop the name of a well-known critic or museum director, even if your connection to them is tenuous.)
If a gallery is interested in taking you on as an artist, they'll probably want to see a representative sampling of your work. Even if you have one or two knock-out images in your portfolio, a gallery will want to know that you have a mature body of work with a consistent standard throughout. Remember that many artists join a gallery simply by having their work go into the back-room inventory, where it will be shown to specific collectors, rather than having a public exhibition. Not everyone is offered a solo show.
The most important thing to remember about working with a gallery is to maintain a proper business relationship. Every print you give to a gallery should be inventoried by you – not them – and you should understand when and how you can expect payment in the even of a sale. Industry standard is that the artist receives 50% of the retail price of a photo.
You should also discuss whether you are free to have relationships with other galleries, or if your gallery expects exclusivity. If you have a New York gallery, for example, but then arrange to have a show in Los Angeles, sometimes the New York gallery will expect a cut (typically 10%). However, in return for that, they are expected to deal with details like paperwork and shipping. Each relationship between artist and gallery is unique, and you should get as much as possible in writing at the beginning.
|Posted by Peter Digby on May 30, 2012 at 11:40 PM||comments (4)|
"There's nothing more important than to intern at a magazine during college," says Ruth Basloe, the 25-year-old fashion editor at Cosmopolitan. While a senior at Barnard College in New York, Basloe secured an internship at Harper's Bazaar. "It was in the features department, but I didn't care, I just wanted to be there." Her internship led to a job as an assistant at Redbook, and after a year she went back to Harper's Bazaar as a market editor.
Cosmogirl editor-in-chief Atoosa Rubenstein started as a Sassy intern. Rubenstein was notorious for her enthusiasm, even over the most menial tasks. "To me, that job was like saving lives," she says. "I did it with a real vengeance."
Another seasoned fashion editor at Hearst goes as far as to say that everyone she knows in the business has interned. "You're not going to get a job if you don't intern," she says flatly. "When we're hiring for assistants, we want someone who's already had magazine experience, and the best way to do it is while you're at college." If you're not lucky enough to attend a New York City school (many of Manhattan fashion editors have degrees from Barnard, Columbia and NYU), a summer internship is a good option.
Publishing powerhouses Conde Nast and Hearst receive thousands of resumes a year, and getting into one of their publications is the style equivalent to an acceptance letter from Harvard. Many are called, but only a few of the fashion-mad are chosen.
It's not all about who you know. Some editors do hire candidates based intelligence and passion. "When I'm hiring assistants and interns," a fashion director says, "I always look for a high aptitude as well as a real energy for the clothes. I mean, the job is not that exciting. I want someone who'll swoon when the Versace gowns come in, because that's what makes it worth it."
Persistence is key. If you don't know anyone at a magazine to send your resume to, go through the mastheads of your target titles and mail away. "I sent my resume everywhere," recalls Basloe. "Someone called and said they didn't have an opening, but they knew someone who did at another magazine. And because my resume looked good, they wanted to recommend me for the position." If your cold-calling doesn't yield results, you can always make your name and fatten your portfolio in the indie-mag frontier. Avant-garde magazines, with smaller budgets and an alternative viewpoint, can be stepping-stones to corporate behemoths. Surface, Arude, Flaunt and Visonaire, are more prepared take on the responsibility of testing out lesser-known talents. Be prepared to work for free, but amassing a great clip file from the 'underground' is a great way to launch into the mainstream. Camilla Nickerson, Vogue's senior fashion editor, made her career by styling eccentric, in-your-face shoots for British magazines like The Face. An early peddler of heroin chic, Nickerson was soon snapped up by Vogue's Anna Wintour to work on the other side of the Atlantic.
There's no occupation more sartorially demanding than fashion editor, so dressing the part in your interview is essential. Still, when you're starting out, it's hard to make an impression. However, all the editors interviewed for this story agree: wear something respectfully professional, but still stylish. "No suits!" a fashion director commands. "Knee length skirt, bare legs, heels. Strappy sandals are OK. But don't wear jeans – unless they're Chloe."
Basloe, who is routinely photographed by the fashion paparazzi and has been pictured numerous times in the "Street Style" section of the New York Times and the fashion pages of the New York Post, still remembers her first interview outfit. "I had a sleeveless black turtleneck, a periwinkle knee-length skirt, and those Sabrina heels – the ones when they first came out. I was a senior in college and I didn't have too much money to shop, so the shirt was from the Gap, the skirt I got at Filene's, and the shoes were from Zara. And I still think it's a great outfit!"
"Basically, you're styling yourself," she says. "When people see you at appointments and at shows looking good, they'll want you. Your value rises. Let's face it, this is a looks-oriented industry." Helen Gurley Brown remembers that when Atoosa Rubenstein was an assistant, "People would ask me, Who is that girl? She was so striking."
Once you're in, keeping up the look is important. "I like to make sure every thing is right. I dress somewhat thematically," another much-photographed editor says. "I like to make sure I have the right jewelry on, the right shoes. If I'm working a look and I'll remember that I have another pair of shoes that might have worked better, I'll spend the whole day berating myself for not thinking of them sooner. It's all about the details."
Still, bargain shopping is not to be sniffed at. "It's all about mixing," says Basloe. "I still love H&M and the Gap. Don't be a snob."
It's not all sample sales and town cars. Internships are typically unpaid, or on the low side, and assistants earn in the high teens or low twenties. Entry-level jobs in the fashion magazine industry are also mindless and menial. "It's going to be pretty unglamorous," a former assistant at Vogue told me. "Mostly you end up steam-cleaning clothes for shoots, answering phones, opening mail." After interning at Sassy, Atoosa Rubenstein's first job was as a fashion assistant at Cosmopolitan – she had to keep the fashion closet (where all clothes and accessories are kept between shoots) neat and tidy.
Paying your dues means never giving any attitude when performing trivial tasks. "Don't sigh. Don't roll your eyes. This is a social game, people notice," an editor warns. "Also, you shouldn't kiss ass too much. It's better if people think you're cool." Enthusiasm is infectious – and can lead to bigger things. Nancy Roth, an NYU graduate who interned and worked as an assistant at Harper's Bazaar, followed that with a stint as a market editor for Allure, and was recently made a Senior Fashion Editor at Mademoiselle at 24. Roth was notorious for her dedication – she was reported not to have missed a day of work as an intern, even during finals.
As an assistant, you're responsible for the magazine's relationships with the showrooms. "You can't be careless," a Vogue assistant says. "If you say you'll have a sample from a shoot back at 4pm, you should make sure it goes back at 4pm. You have to keep to your word and respect their job and their obligations to other magazines." Usually, several magazines need the same sample, so a bad reputation can mean others in the fashion clique won't be so ready to help you out during deadline time.
The endlessly catty environment is also something you will have to adapt to – quickly. This is no career clich�. Fashion magazines are typically estrogen-heavy environments, and things can get nasty and competitive faster than you can say "Bitch on heels." One former Hearst staffer says, "If I wanted to join a sorority, I would have joined one in college. But you just can't take it personally." On the plus side: unlike the stiffness endemic to the typical office jobs, life at a magazine is less rigid, and sitting around and gossiping all day is allowed during slow moments. Still, the creative industry does breed its share of tyrants. It's common knowledge that several Vogue editors are notorious for their less-than-appealing behavior, but the sisterhood regularly warns other junior assistants about which editors to avoid.
Where are the goodie bags?
So your colleagues are hormonal and the pay isn't anything to write home about (or in most cases, to live on), but the perks – oh, the perks.
"You get a lot of free clothes," an editor admits. "Depending on your rank. You get a good amount of stuff at different levels. But you have to be careful not to get too greedy." Taking advantage of your position is a definite no-no. "People will notice. But it's hard – it's a strange thing. It's partly friendship and partly bribery – and things can definitely get out of hand." While some working fashion journalists are not allowed by their publications to accept gifts – e.g. the New York Times and the New York Observer – in the rest of the business it's a free-for-all.
Assistants can also view the fashion show circus first-hand, usually in their boss' place. "I remember when I was at Bazaar," says Cosmopolitan's Ruth Basloe recounts, "I went to my first show because my boss couldn't go. It was the Enrico Coveri show, and they sat her in the front row. I was so used to sitting in the back for Redbook. Of course I'm there 20 minutes early and I'm waiting. Ivanka Trump is modeling. And who sits next to me but Donald Trump!" Basloe laughs. "I was horrified! All the photographers started going nuts and I just wanted to hide underneath my seat."
Not for long, of course. Once they get through the door, few fashionistas want to step back outside. After all, a fashion editor's job is what every style addict craves.
"When I was a teenager, I cried, when I saw the Harper's Bazaar with Linda Evangelista on the cover. I cried, it was so beautiful," says Rubenstein.
"I was 8 years old and my family went on this cross-country train ride," remembers Basloe. "We were supposed to look at the scenery – that was the purpose of the trip. I totally missed it because I was immersed in my copy of Vogue. My family still teases me about that. But that's what I am. I'm a magazine and fashion junkie."
|Posted by Peter Digby on May 30, 2012 at 11:40 PM||comments (0)|
Most models are recruited by modeling scouts who roam around the country in a tireless search for fresh faces. Models are often discovered in shopping malls, schoolyards, clubs or other obvious places where young people hang out. If you fit the requirements, it's very likely that you will be noticed. You can also send pictures of yourself to an agency. At the end of the article you'll find the addresses of the top agencies in New York and Paris. You're better off sending a few simple photographs than trying to create an expensive portfolio. The simpler the photographs are, the better it is. An agency wants to see a natural face, not someone that's playing dress up and trying to strike supermodel poses. Another way to get signed is to go to agencies's open castings. Call the agencies's reception desks to find out when those are. Although some models have been discovered through model conventions, most schools and competitions is generally a waste of money. You shouldn't have to pay anybody to get access to an agency.
Unless you already live in New York, Paris, or Milan, you will most likely have to move there after you've signed with an agency. They will find you an apartment and help you get settled with your new life. But the beginning of a modeling career is a very difficult time: "You need to have a strong character," says Hel�ne Caroline Bodet who is a booker at Elite in Paris. "In the beginning many girls feels insecure and weak. They're far away from home and maybe they don't get any jobs at first." The agency will try to support you through difficult times: "We let them know that it's OK to cry in front of us and try to give them security and trust, but we can't take the place of a family," says Bodet. An agency can also not be there to protect you 24 hours a day. We all know the stories of young models that have been drugged and violated by people they met in clubs, or ripped off by scam artists who promised them the moon. "The fame and glamour of this business attracts a lot of sharks," says Bodet, "we always tell the models not to believe what anybody tells them and not to listen to anyone who promises them anything." Ambitious models stand a much better chance to be successful. Although it is of course exciting to be on your own in a big city and glamorous to hang in the VIP room at all the hippest night spots, you have to be disciplined and keep going to castings and show up to meetings on time. "The girls that never make it are the ones that don't take modeling as a real job," says Bodet.
Presenting yourself for clients is an important part of the job. "Many girls make the mistake of trying to look elegant and sophisticated, but they don't have the fashion knowledge to pull that off," says Bodet. "The client wants to see the natural beauty of the model. We try to teach them not to wear make up - except maybe a little blush - and just have clean hair and nice nails." She also recommends dressing simply - jeans and a t-shirt will do - and wear nice shoes with medium high heels. It is of course also extremely important to have a pleasant and professional attitude. However, don't to try too hard to be charming. Clients are generally more impressed by someone who has a take-it-or-leave-it attitude than someone who seems desperate to get the job.
A large part of being photogenic is to love to be in front of a camera. To be a successful model you have to be a bit of an exhibitionist and enjoy having your picture taken. It is also important to remember that you need to be very relaxed about nudity. "The best models are the ones that really like the job and want to take part in the process," says photographer Dean Thunderwall who works for magazines like Arena, Mixte Mode, and Italian Glamour. "Some models really work with you on the picture, they come to the shoot prepared, they look up references beforehand and have suggestions and ideas. It's more fun to work with someone who doesn't look at the polaroids to check if she looks good, but does it to see the whole picture and try to make the story work." Like with anything else, it's important to find your own niche and know what you're good at. "Many models have found a certain "character" that works for them. Some are really good at looking pissed off, some are really good at being sexy, like Frankie Raider, and some just look really cool, like Kirsten Owen," says Thunderwall. The girls who know how to perform well in front of the camera are also the ones that are most likely to make a successful crossover into acting. Milla Jovovich is a good example of a model who has managed to bring her talent for expressing herself on photographs onto the big screen. She once confided to us that she always tries to "be as real as I possibly can." Perhaps that is the secret.
|Posted by Peter Digby on May 30, 2012 at 11:25 PM||comments (0)|
There are as many different ways to embark upon a fashion career as there are styles of design. Ralph Lauren's Polo empire was founded on a small tie collection that he sold to Bloomingdales. Helmut Lang decided to open his own clothing store when he couldn't find a t-shirt that he liked. Michael Kors built up a network of customers by selling clothes in a trendy NYC boutique. However, most people find that the best foundation for a design career is to get a fine arts degree in fashion at a prestigious school. Besides teaching you the craft, a good school will also add credibility to your resum�. "We live in a brandname society, and having the name of a good school behind you really does help," says Carol Mongo, Director of the Fashion Department at Parsons School of Design in Paris.
There are a lot of colleges that have fashion programs, but only a handful has the kind of reputation that can really push your career. (See separate listings for addresses and web sites.) It's hard to enter these schools as competition is high, and they tend to be very selective. You apply by sending a portfolio of drawings of your designs. "We can't teach you how to be creative -- you have to bring your creativity to us and let us lead you on your way," says Carol Mongo. She recommends students to get some sewing experience before they apply. Drawing is also an important skill for a designer -- it is the way you communicate your ideas. In order to build an impressive portfolio it's a good idea to have some experience in sketching; taking art classes will help you understand form and proportion. But you don't have to be an expert drawer to get accepted to a school. "The most important quality that we look for in our students is that they are truly passionate and exuberant about fashion," says Mongo. "If you have wonderful ideas but can't draw, there are always ways to get around it. You could for example put your designs on a mannequin and take pictures of it."
Most fashion programs are three to four years long. During that time you will take fine arts classes and study drawing, color composition and form. You will also learn pattern making, draping and cutting techniques. One of the most important advantages of design schools is that they work really closely with the industry. Parsons, for example, have "designer critic projects" where successful designers like Donna Karan and Michael Kors work directly with the graduating students. Ambitious students also have the chance to win prestigious awards and grants, which bring them a lot of attention as well as financial support. One very important event is the fashion show at the end of the last semester, when graduating students show their collections. A lot of important people from the fashion industry attend these shows to scout new talent. It's also an opportunity to be really outrageous and get noticed by the media. Hussein Chalayan, for example, became instantly infamous when he showed rotting clothes that he had buried in his backyard for his graduation show at Saint Martins.
"Let's be realistic," says Carol Mongo at Parsons, "School's not for everyone. If you're just looking to get a job in the fashion industry -- not a career as a designer -- you probably don't need to go school." If you want to work as a seamstress or a patternmaker, the best thing is probably to apply for an internship at a fashion house and work your way up. However, there are many examples of famous designers who started out as interns with no formal training. For example, Dior's brightest new star, men's wear designer Hedi Slimane, had a degree in journalism when he started working with men's wear designer José Levy. Balenciaga's Nicolas Ghesquière is another example of a brilliantly successful designer who learned the jobs hands-on, as an assistant at Jean-Paul Gaultier. Usually, you apply for an internship by sending a portfolio to a fashion house you're interested in. But it's a good idea to call them up beforehand to see exactly what they need. It's also important to note that competition is fierce, and unless you have personal connections, it's very difficult to get an internship without an education. There are also designers, like Luella Bartley, who started their own business after working as stylists for several years, thus building an industry network as well as a good marketing sense.
Unfortunately, it's not enough for a designer to be creative; you also have to have some business sense. As fashion gets more and more corporate driven, it's important to be aware of the business climate and understanding the mechanics behind it. By religiously reading trade papers like "Women's Wear Daily" you will get a lot of valuable information. If you want to run your own company, you need to be extremely organized and learn at least the basics of economics. A lot of fashion schools are currently increasing business classes in their curriculum. "Our students have to be smart enough to know how to negotiate a contract, or to pick a business partner," says Carol Mongo. It's perhaps telling that many of the designers that are really successful today, like Calvin Klein or Tom Ford, are involved in every aspect of the business -- from licensing strategies to ad campaigns to actually designing the clothes.
|Posted by Peter Digby on March 8, 2012 at 1:15 PM||comments (0)|
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