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interview: joshua herman from nycfotoworks

Edited by: Cator Sparks
on May 8th, 2012
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As we have heard from agents in the past, due to digital cameras, everyone and their brother now considers themselves a photographer. The market is flooded with more photographers than ever before and it is harder and harder for the good ones to meet the right people. Enter NYCFotoWorks, a group that is focused on helping talent meet the agents and to get them working. Reviewers from Assouline, Baron & Baron, Kate Ryan, Exposure NY, Allure, Conde Nast Traveler and The New York Times (to name a few) all take time out of their busy schedules to meet and greet the rising stars of their fields. 

 From June 19-21st NYCFotoWorks will be holding their bi-annual portfolio review. To get the buzz started on this event we sat down with Joshua Herman, one of the founding partners to hear more about how it started, the process and how it has grown. 

What inspired you to create this company?

 We created this company in 2009 as an outlet for creative professionals to come together with the goal of collaboration and professional growth.  The physical disconnect between art buyers/editors and the artists has widened over the last several years and we wanted to create a venue that brought these creative professionals back together. For artists it’s hard to get one on one time with art buyers or photo editors these days. The business has always been about personal connections, sharing a vision personally and getting work based on that vision. So we are excited to see so many people enjoying this opportunity to sit down with artists and ask them about themselves and get a sense of their work. For a lot of artists it’s been  a very effective way to get their work out there and interact with the decision makers.

What is your background?

My partner in NYCFotoWorks is Marc Asnin, an award-winning documentary and veteran reportage photographer. He and I met in 2008 and began working on a documentary book project about a hasidic community based in Crown Heights Brooklyn called A Light Among the Nations; he as the photographer, me as the writer and reporter.  We started NYCFotoWorks in 2009 soon after and have been working on both projects ever since.

How do people become a part of the event?

Our portfolio reviews are exclusively professional, so artists must go through an application process. Once accepted, artists choose from the available packages how many meetings they would like during the three day event.  Artists then request the specific reviewers they want to meet with, and we match them accordingly.

How do you vet the reviewers?

We try to work with people in the industry who are in the position to hire new artists. The feedback artists receive from many of these industry professionals is invaluable, however most of the artists attend with the goal of increasing their workflow. 

How has the event evolved since inception?

The first event we ever hosted, we had 45 editors and 45 photographers. It was solely editorial. We now include art buyers, producers, designers, stylists, hair/makeup artists, retouchers and location scouts.  It's become a well-rounded professional networking event for many different kinds of professionals.

Tell us the benefits for independent artists looking to grow their career.

The real value is in the face-time; the 1 on 1 interaction is key.  There are many different ways for artists to promote themselves, from mailers to online platforms.  However, to sit down with a decision maker and show your work, get their feedback, and connect with them personally, is priceless. What we love to see is how the artists are constantly surprised by opportunities or introductions they wouldn't have imagined. For these three days, it’s like a hive buzzing with creative professionals showing work and receiving feedback. Especially for artists who don’t currently have reps, its incredibly important to be where so many decision makers are in one place. 

What else does NYCFotoWorks do besides portfolio reviews?

 We currently host our AIM Portfolio Review series twice a year in New York City.  We are planning to host an event in L.A. this fall.  We also have a workshop series in the works that will bring these same professionals together in a more educational way. 

 Can you tell us about any great connections that have come from NYCFotoWorks events?

There have been many connections at our events that have led to work for artists.  A photographer named Robb Scharetg, who has been coming since our first event, now has a rep and has recently completed a big ad job for a pharmaceutical company from the last event. Michael Clinnard, a photographer based in Seattle, recently did a cover shoot for Fortune Magazine from a connection he revisited at the event. We've had several international photographers find quite a bit of success at our events.  Studio D of Hearst Magazines picked up a handful of photographers in the last year from meetings at the portfolio review.  Bringing highly talented people together in a curated environment and allowing them to sit down and exchange their work and insights has definitely been a welcomed avenue by both artists and reviewers. 


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