Los Angeles-based still life and conceptual photographer Justin Fantl explores colors, shapes and shadows. Fantl’s carefully constructed in-camera images appear like drawings or illustrations, challenging the perception of the viewer. His client list includes Wieden + Kennedy, Google, Old Spice, Bloomberg Businessweek, GQ, New York Times Magazine, and Wired, but he always finds time for personal projects. His newest promo, “Perceptual Reversal Series no. 01” is a double-sided, glossy, 16.5”x21” poster, he mailed to commercial and editorial clients he currently works for and some he hopes to work for in the near future.
The idea for the piece came from his interest in optical illusions (text from the poster can be found at the end of this post). “I saw these trays and the potential to make shapes… I hadn’t made a poster before and it seemed like a great way to present the work,” Fantl told me via email. He contacted George McCalman, Creative Director at McCalman, someone who’s worked with many photographers (Aya Brackett, Jessica Antola, Jason Madara and Maren Caruso to name a few), and someone Fantl has worked with in the past. “Finding a designer that has a good read on your work is so important. I sort of roughly told him what I had in mind and provided some inspiration imagery…mostly old diagrams and scientific illustrations.” Though Fantl is represented by Giant Artists who regularly makes promo pieces for their roster, Fantl also likes to produce his own. “I enjoy the process of putting these pieces together. It’s nice to use your own imagery to make something that you want to. You can put your work into a context that you yourself envision and that can be very satisfying.”
Fantl’s promo text: My interest in optical illusions can be traced to an M.C. Escher print that hung on the wall of my grandparents house. It was a version of the Fish and Birds series and I sought it out at every visit. At times I would see fish and then all of a sudden I would see birds and there was a peculiar tinge of delight and confusion whenever the switch occurred. This switch is know as “multistable perception” or “perceptual reversal.” I recently discovered a physical manifestationof this phenomenon in the “Kaleido Trays” designed by Clara von Zweigbergk and decided to explore different photographic variations. If you spend a moment looking at the images from this series you may experience a spontaneous reversal of your own. It isn’t something you can force…you just have to look.
Maryland-based photographer Dave Cooper recently sent in this promo that features his personal project on wooden boat builders that work at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in Saint Michaels, Maryland. A 16-page booklet is the meat of this promo. It tells the story of the boat builders through environmental portraits, and detail shots of their shops, materials and some of the boats. The text, written by the photographer, talks a bit about the history and current state of this traditional work. Cooper also included a 90-second multimedia piece on DVD. The book and disk are gathered into a cover, which is printed on nice card stock with a nautical map of the bay. A flap at the bottom of the cover creates a pocket to hold the booklet, and a foam tab secures the DVD.
Cooper often photographs kids and family lifestyle work, so he created this promo to show editors and agencies “what my aesthetic and style is when working with adults,” he told me via email. He also wanted to “share that the way I think is very narrative and lends itself to stories, photo essays, and the like.” Cooper, who in the past worked as a graphic designer, designed the piece himself. Initially he thought he’d print them on his Epson printer, but was having to compromise too much to make it work. “I quickly realized that I could not be the writer/editor/photographer/designer/printer/fulfiller and still wind up with a good product sent out in a timely manner,” he says. “In the end I redesigned the piece to suit a professional print shop and the results of having pros ‘finish’ the promos was well worth it.” He worked with a Baltimore-area print shop that used an HP Indigo press.
When Cooper came up with the idea for this promo, which he printed in a small run of 100, he had a particular magazine and photo editor in mind. “The emailed response from the photo editor was one of the best emails I have ever received.” He’s sending other promos a few at a time to a targeted list.
When he sent it to me, he included a small note saying that Maggie Brett Kennedy at Garden & Gun, who’s recommended promos to us in the past, suggested he send it. Thanks for the look, Maggie!
A few months ago we were sent a not-quite-pocket-size but not too big (5” x 7”) 24-page booklet by Los-Angeles based photographer Diana Zalucky. We wrote about Zalucky in the December 2013 PDNews section of the print magazine, discussing how she turned a staff job at Disney into a successful freelance advertising career. Zalucky’s rep, Cynthia Held, was quoted in the article. “She is constantly [test shooting], and challenging herself. She’s not shy about reaching out to art directors and creative directors directly. They sense immediately that she has a tremendous energy and spirit.” Zalucky’s “energy and spirit” are the reasons why her 2014 promo booklet caught our attention. Zalucky collaborated with the designer Xochitl Munoz and printed it with Paper Chase in Los Angeles. She says “I wanted it to be filled with all the things that I love shooting…lifestyle, travel, adventure and food.” But Zalucky was also conscious about her audience and wanted the promo to be something that the promo’s recipients would keep and regularly use which is where the monthly calendar pages come in.
"It was also important to me that those getting it could write/ doodle all over it if they wish and be small enough to take with you on meetings. I want to make an effort of sending more thoughtful promos that are both useful and beautiful. Also to feel similar to something I would send personally to my friends."
All photos © Diana Zalucky
All images © Emiliano Granado
Each week since the beginning of the year, Emiliano Granado has announced a print sale via social media, and each week he’s sold out the edition of three in a matter of minutes.
The 11x14 prints aren’t expensive. Their $10 price tag signals that this isn’t really a money-making effort. Instead it’s an opportunity to “get more three-dimensional things into the world,” Granado told PDN. It also allows him to connect and interact with his network each week.
He sells the prints via quesofrito.com, a separate website from his portfolio site. The separate site, Granado says, is an opportunity to “extend the parameter of what people see me as, which I think is really important.” Quesofrito.com and the print sale effort, he adds, signal that he’s “somebody that creates and publishes and makes work in the [analogue] world versus just [creating] pixels.”
It also allows him to do something with images that don’t necessarily fit in his portfolio. “I have all of these photos that no one has really ever seen that I think are great… I want people to see them and I want people to have them,” he explains.
Granado set the price so that he would cover his costs, and sized the editions so they would sell out immediately and wouldn’t create “a ton of back-end work for me” to fulfill the orders.
Not only do the images sell out each week, he also connects with people in his network, who lament not getting a print on Facebook or Instagram, or reach out to him directly. “Every week people text me, email me, whatever it is, and that’s part of it: having this limited thing, it’s like a little game that can happen.”
A few weeks ago we mentioned that it can be a clever gambit to create promos that people can use. Riad Represents recently sent editors here this oversized mousepad, which is designed to look like a corkboard with images by their photographers pinned to it.
Some of us were in need of mousepad upgrades (but have obviously been too busy to shop for office accessories) and put these to use immediately.
Los Angeles-based lifestyle photographer Scott G. Toepfer sent a 186-page promo book my way recently. The roughly 6.5” x 6.5” book contains a collection of images he shot in 2013, including both personal and commercial work, offering a look back at his year in the style of a photo annual. (His client list includes BMW, Triumph Motorcycles, Pacifico Beer, Allstate and Red Wing shoes among many others.)
The design is ultra-simple, and the images are nicely printed on heavy paper stock. “Promos seem to be getting more elaborate, and while a book is more extensive than a postcard, I didn’t want the design to outweigh the photos,” Toepfer told me in an email. He printed the book in a first run of ten using Blurb, sending them to “a few regular clients, a couple photo editors and agency creatives that I’m really dying to work for. I tried to do my homework as best I could on my favorite past/current campaigns so that I wasn’t wasting money or books,” he explains. He’s ordered an additional ten books.
Toepfer acknowledges that some might shy away from a large promo, and says his rep was a bit skeptical at first. It’s also expensive to print books, “but when I’m trying to build a rapport with folks, I’d rather they get a bigger picture of who I am, with a glimpse into the personal as well as the professional.”