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September 23rd, 2009

The meetings: A photographer’s NYC pilgrimage

Posted by Jeffrey Thayer

When I heard that editorial and commercial photographer Jeffrey Thayer was heading to New York City for his first round of face-to-face meetings with editors and art buyers, I was eager to have him share the experience with RESOLVE. The NYC pilgrimage is an important (often nerve-wracking) right of passage for many photographers. Through Jeff’s eyes — with posts on preparing for the trip, the meetings, and the follow-ups — photographers planning a similar trip can get a peak inside the process.
©Jeffrey Thayer

©Jeffrey Thayer

I arrived at JFK Sunday afternoon, got dropped off at my hotel, and went out to meet with some friends who were in charge of my nightlife while I was in the city. Six in the morning the next day my alarms went off and I looked over my list of things to do.

It wasn’t the best week to get meetings with everyone I wanted — blame it on Fashion Week — but I got some. I was familiar with the first two publications I was to meet with, so I hopped on the train and headed downtown with my portfolio and leave-behinds in hand.

The meetings were short and good. I was able to discuss the publications’ visions and to show where mine could complement it. They both enjoyed my work and, the greatest compliment, said that some of my images “are such (insert magazine title here) shots.”

I was close by some other people I wanted to meet with but could never get on the phone, so I called everyone in the photo department until I got a human voice. I explained what I was doing, “in the city to meet with some reps and other creatives,” and asked if they had time to meet. Most didn’t but wanted a copy of my mini-book. So I dropped them off at different offices this until my feet were angry with me.

5:30 headed back to my room to shower and get ready for a little party. 1 a.m. back at the hotel to review tomorrow’s to-do list and a little sleep. Tuesday got up bright and early again, re-reviewed my list, and hit the street.

Portfolios, mini-books, and camera can get pretty heavy, but luckily the city functions at the same fast pace as I do and it fueled me on. That day I had meetings with a couple reps to get some insight on what more I could do. They looked through my book, gave me some great ideas, and told me some things that are always hard for me to believe: “Your work is strong, you have a good eye,” things like that.  I get bored with my images and I’m always super critical of myself but I think that is what keeps you progressing and growing.

©Jeffrey Thayer

©Jeffrey Thayer

Next I got to spend some time with Gray Scott, a great fashion photographer who creates amazing fine-art and conceptual fashion stories. We talked about all sorts of things: photography, what inspires us as artists, the relationship between recent vampire mania and the economic climate. Even though our styles are very different, the driving force behind why we create is similar. It always makes me feel good to meet someone who I see as passionate and inspired, as I hope people see me.  Thank you again, Gray, it was truly a pleasure.

Then I wanted to take a little break so I left my book back at the hotel and went out to see what I could see, to shoot a little, and to drop off some minis for more people who simply couldn’t meet up. Life felt good sans the couple extra pounds.

Wednesday I met with another rep that pointed me in the direction of a freelance editor I should meet because she works with a lot of people. All the reps I met and spoke with were great and helped me immensely — one even said she would pick me up in a heartbeat if I was living in NYC.

Hit the phone a little more. Met with another editor and we chatted and had fun. The general consensus from everyone I got face time with was that I have the right attitude, some definite talent, and they could work with me.

Next I shot some more, then decided to go out with my friends to a jazz bar and listened to some amazing music. The energy of the musicians and the way they fed off each other was truly an inspiration. Calling it poetic would not do it justice — and I was an English major.

Thursday I had one more meeting and then a flight at 6 p.m. so I went and met with a director of photography, a photo editor, and a couple interns. We chatted about common friends in the industry and again they enjoyed my work; another success. The rest of the day I spent looking at Avedon’s work at the International Center of Photography. Amazing. A brief visit to MOMA, where I shot a little more, and back to JFK to chase the sunset home.

All in all I, shot three rolls of 120, ate some amazing food, hung out with great people, and realized I needed more time in New York and a little more planning. Luckily I will be back in the city soon and I will keep up the work, of course.

I especially want to thank all those I met with. You were all amazing, and I truly enjoyed the conversation and insight I received from you. Not to mention my two friends who kept me going to all the great nighttime events and what not. As far as how it went, the visits to my site have been consistently up since the Monday I first started getting my work and myself out there, so my fingers are crossed.

Be Part of the RESOLUTION: Top editorial photographer Marc Asnin has good advice for meetings with editors, and Jasmine DeFoore from Redux Pictures has written several posts about getting an editorial rep. What were your first editor meetings like?

One Comment

  1. September 30th, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    Ryan Smith

    Thanks for sharing your experience Jeff.

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