All started a few moths ago when the Picwant team and I have decided to start a new discussion around photography. Our mission is offering to our photographers new opportunities, that for us means not only visibility but also creating with them a path to grow and enhance their skills. That is important for our professional photographers and especially for amateurs, that have always looked at photography as spectators and now have started with us to prove themselves, everyday, with passion and unique creativity. Along with these thoughts we focused on a new project with the aim of offering new insights to our photographers’ community.
I’ve decided to ask directly to professionals, belonging to different industries, how they look at photography as it is evolving day by day and what they need for their work on a daily basis. The first person, of a series of interviews, that I had the honor to approach for the project, is Caroline Hunter, picture photo editor at the Guardian Weekend magazine. I really want to thank her for spending some of her precious time and for being so kind to get back to me in a jiffy.
I hope you will enjoy the interview and take a bit of it into your mobile photographer’ life.
First of all thanks a lot for your time Caroline. Would you please describe what are the main duties in your job?
My role as a picture editor at the Guardian Weekend magazine involves commissioning a wide range of photography, everything from celebrity covers to food, fashion, portraits, reportage and conceptual photography. I organise and oversee photo-shoots, source locations, stylists, hair and make-up artists and other creatives needed for stills photography. I contribute ideas for visuals and also edit proposals for photo-stories sent in by photographers and photo agencies. I also undertake picture research, negotiate fees, manage the picture budget and create web galleries. It’s a very busy role.
Where do you find new photographers for your works?
I’m always on the look out for new and outstanding talent and I’m fortunate that many photographers make contact with me and send me proposals, so I’m never really short on ideas or choices. I’ll always make a note of photographers whose work I really admire and I also attend photography festivals regularly to see exhibitions and view portfolios. I also receive recommendations from other picture editors.
Please tell us just one quality, or skill, that you find in photographers who work with you?
I like photographers who can interpret a brief, but who also have the confidence to try their own ideas. The photographers that I work with are often very creative and independent thinkers and they are also usually experienced enough to deal with any unexpected situation that may arise.
Do you think photography has changed in the last years?
Yes, it has become much harder for many photographers to make a living due to the over-saturation of images, which is a shame. The style of photography has changed too. Editorial portraits are often more ‘stylised’ than before with more reliance on post-production techniques.
What do you think about equipment evolution?
I think digital equipment has revolutionised photography. The birth of the high quality smartphone effectively killed off the demand for compact digital cameras. We live in a much more immediate and visually literate world and digital images can now take seconds to go viral, but photography has become more throwaway as a result. Great reportage photography can still be an instrument for change though and art photography continues to push boundaries, so all is not lost.
Based on your experience, do you think media content demand is changing and how?
I think everything has become faster. There’s an assumption that any image that is available on the internet can be used for publication. I think most picture editors often sigh at the mention of ‘Google’. Often copyright issues are more hazy and unclear, especially with images that appear on social media.
Do you see often images produced with a smartphone on your work for The Guardian?
Yes, although not much is made of the fact that they are smartphone images. The issue only arises if the quality is not so great, but most photographers use professional DSLR cameras, as this gives them more control when image-making.
Can you give an advice to photographers who want to improve their skills?
Go to see lots and lots of exhibitions, read photography books, look at the work of other photographers who produce similar work or in a similar genre, take lots of photographs and try to work out what it is that really inspires you. In this current climate, excellent technical and post-production skills are also advantageous.