My friend Tamera tagged me in a 7-day art challenge recently. The rules are simple: post 7 pieces of art on social media and talk about them. So far with my posts, we’ve visited the darkroom, the newsroom, a magazine startup, poetry, and book cover design.
Today I want to talk about the beauty that is the photo shoot. Specifically, about the magic that can happen between a creative director (me!) and a photographer.
I have worked with so many amazing photographers that I cannot possibly list them all here. But I can tell you a story or two that I think might help illustrate this very complicated and beautiful relationship that exists between two creatives working together in the photo studio (and post-production, of course).
When I first began working as creative director at Creative Loafing, I was handed a list of photographers that I might want to work with. It was up to me whether I hired them or not, and overall it was a really good list of young photographers who had vision and were looking for an outlet.
One of the photographers stood out to me immediately: the second I saw Justin Driscoll’s work, I fell in love with it. “He is our nightlife photographer,” I was told. “Not anymore,” I thought, and I immediately called him up and said “Let’s shoot a cover.”
I knew what I was looking for and he was it. His gritty, grungy style matched perfectly with the alt weekly vibe Creative Loafing was going after, and I knew we would make magic together. To this day, we both look back fondly on that time as the beginning of something beautiful.
Fast forward, and 3 years of working at the weekly paper netted the two of us 28 covers together (is that the right number, Justin?) I didn’t do the math, but I guarantee I’ve worked with him on more covers than anyone else in all my years of doing cover design at any publication. We mesh so well together. He can read my mind. If I tell him what I want he knows not only how to make it happen, but how to make it happen better. I still fall in love with his work every time I see it, whether it’s something he worked on with me or whether it’s him breaking into abandoned buildings or hosting his very own gallery show. He’s amazing.
Young, creative photographers are part of the story. Another part includes the photographers that have been doing this so long they could shoot an award-winning cover in their sleep. A few weeks after I began working at Creative Loafing, I arranged a meeting with Jim McGuire to come in so I could meet him and see if we could work together. If you don’t know him, you should: he’s been shooting Charlotte for quite a long time. In fact, my boss, Mark Kemp, walked in and saw Jim sitting at my desk, and his jaw dropped.
After Jim left, Mark took me aside and said “He’s one of the best photographers in Charlotte. How in the world did you get him to come in here?”
“I called and asked him,” I replied.
And it really was that simple.
Now, years later, I’m still working with Jim and sending clients his way.
And it really is that simple.
Jim has this amazingly cool, large studio in Plaza Midwood, and over the years he has built quite the collection of props. “It’s too bad we don’t have a human skull,” I lamented one day … and then five minutes later, our model was holding a human skull in his hands. This is what life is like working with Jim. Our projects usually begins with the sentence, “Oh! Wouldn’t it be cool if …”
I could go on and on, telling stories about the amazingness that is Charlotte photography and how lucky I feel to have been able to work with the greats. But instead I’ll shut up and show you a couple of examples, and then I’ll say: tag, Justin and Jim, you’re both it! I can’t wait to see which pieces of art you choose to show for this challenge.