Last month I received an email from Ross Mantle inviting me to “a gathering, presentation and conversation around images and film” at his apartment in Greenpoint. Photographers Jason Andrew and John Francis Peters showed a slideshow of projects they were working on, while filmmaker John Wilson showed one of his short films.
After each presentation the group of around 10 discussed the projects and offered up their ideas on how they could be pushed forward. It was an interesting experience and really refreshing to be in a setting where ideas could be discussed amongst a group of creative people. The artists were very open to criticism and new ideas for their projects.
This experience is not that unique I’m sure, your typical class for a photography student, but for me it was another recent experience that greatly influenced how I want LPV evolve in the future.
I’m very fortunate to be able to live in Brooklyn and meet up with photographers who are interested in kicking around ideas. These interactions have further solidified my desire to work more closely with photographers on LPV projects and features. I find it far more rewarding than simply going through ‘submissions’ and looking for ‘content’ to feed the photoland beast.
I feel very honored that photographers are interested enough in what we’re doing to take the time to submit their work. In general, I have to say the quality of our submissions is pretty high, at least by my perhaps pedestrian standards. We’ve published plenty of work that’s come directly from submissions, so I’m grateful, but at the same time, I’ve always felt a bit depressed about rejecting others. But that just goes with the territory.
Over the last few months there have been multiple occasions where I’ve received a submission for a body of work that resonates strongly with me, only to find that same work appear on a blog I follow within a week. “I guess I’m too slow,” I always say to myself.
I try not to publish work that’s been too widely distributed, even though I know each blog and magazine probably has their own unique audiences, and naturally strong work should be widely distributed, right? Still, it just makes me feel lazy as an editor, so I’ll often open up a dialogue with the photographer to brainstorm a new idea for a feature. An example of one of these collaborations is Elizabeth Clark Libert feature we published. I was pretty stoked about that one, as well as the recent feature of Nguan’s work.
Generally the photographers have been excited and open to ideas. It is a bit more work and sometimes features take a few weeks, or even months to come to fruition, but when they do, I feel the collaboration comes through in the feature we publish.
I frequently think about how photography is presented on the web and as I’ve written in the past, I wonder what exactly are we looking at when we see a selection of photographs on the web. I haven’t figured it out yet but I think there’s room to evolve the formulas that are most frequently used.
Sometimes we just seem to devour photography on the web like we’re at an all you can eat buffet of imagery. Gorge, gorge, gorge, more, more, more. We should watch out though, because I don’t think getting fat on photography & imagery is necessarily desirable. It’s impossible to take it all in anyway so we might as well focus on enjoying what we can and not give in to the impulse to gorge.
Point being, I’m not really attracted to sorting through submissions and simply publishing a few photographs from the projects that resonate with me. As an editor, and creative individual (I like to think anyway), I want more out of the process. I’m not interested in simply promoting certain photography because I think it deserves more exposure (which often just means sharing it with more photographers.)
It’s taken a bit of soul searching, as well as some inspiring conversations, to arrive at the realization that what I’m really interested in doing with LPV is collaborating with photographers, writers and artists who want to create something unique and creatively meaningful for everyone involved in the process. So we’re going to keep going down that path.
Along that line of thinking, as LPV evolves, I think we’re going to become a bit more experimental in our editorial approach and will start showing new work from photographers that might break away from their typical style. I always like to ask photographers if they’re working on any new projects or have new work they’d like to show. I think we’re going to see more and more exclusive features on photography blogs and magazines, especially as we see more new endeavors emerge. It’s challenging to differentiate yourself these days, which I find to be exciting because it forces me as a publisher to keep thinking and evolving.
We have a long way to go, but I’m excited about our direction. If what we’re doing resonates with you, or if you have an idea for a collaboration, drop me an email. I know some people aren’t comfortable pitching ideas, and I respect that, so a standard submission is always welcome as well. I look forward to working with you and discussing how we can present your work in unique ways.
Collaborating and building long term relationships with photographers makes me incredibly excited about the future of LPV.