One great thing about being based in New York City is that many photographers we admire are also based here, and often stop in to our offices to say hello. Last week, portrait and fashion photographer Lindsay Adler came by and graciously gave me a signed copy of her new book, Creative 52: Weekly Projects to Invigorate Your Photography Portfolio (Peachpit Press, October 2013). She was also kind enough to answer a few questions about it.
Jacqueline Tobin: This is your fourth published book in just a couple of years. What’s your goal with each new book?
Lindsay Adler: I’ve enjoyed teaching and sharing since an early age, just about as long as I’ve loved photography. After graduating college, I started writing my first book when I was 23 (published when I was 24). When I set out to write a book, I ask myself, “What book do I wish had existed to help me save time and advance my career?”
My goal for education is to save people time and to keep things simple and to the point without over complication. As I started my career I wasted a lot of time online trying to figure out how to build a following and open up opportunities. For this reason, my first book was about social media. As I began to decipher useful techniques for building a community and finding new clientele online, I decided to write a book to share what I had learned with other photographers.
JT: Creative 52 is your second book with Peachpit. In addition to online marketing and social media, your previous books covered bad lighting situations and how to conquer them, and fashion flair for wedding and portrait photography. Tell me a bit about this book.
LA: This book is about pushing yourself creatively, conceptually and technically. You can utilize this book simply to be inspired, to give yourself deadlines, or to help push your work to a new level. It is a tool for growth.
JT: What made you decide to want to push yourself, and others, to do creative projects in a certain time frame, and why are such projects so important to a photographer’s career?
LA: At one point in my career, I came to an impasse, where either I could challenge myself to create a more visually arresting portfolio or simply fade into the crowd. I talk about this experience in detail in the book: I had moved to London to pursue fashion photography, and I finally got a meeting with an editor of a magazine I had admired for some time. I excitedly gathered my print portfolio and traveled across London, eager for an opportunity to work with this publication. To me, this had to mean my “big break,” the real start of my career and success. I remember sitting in his office as he quietly flipped through the pages of the portfolio I had poured my heart and soul into.
When he finished he quietly shut the book, turned it over, and pushed it back on the table toward me. “I would start again,” he said with a blank look on his face. I stared at him, searching for meaning in his words. He wanted to look at the portfolio again? He wanted to start the meeting again? Then it hit me. I looked back at him puzzled and he continued. I should start my PORTFOLIO again. Start from scratch. My love and passion in life wasn’t good enough. In the book, I talk more about his words and how I processed them.
I decided to move forward with determination. I set myself on a mission to create images that stopped viewers in their tracks and stood out from the crowd. Each Sunday for the next year, I shot a personal project aimed to help me grow my portfolio and push me both conceptually and technically. The result completely reinvented my work as an artist. I was so fulfilled by the results and how much I grew, that I wanted to share this same process with others. I wanted to provide the motivation and challenges to help other photographers push themselves creativity and be even more fulfilled by this beautiful passion we share—photography!
Lindsay will be posting a link on her website for people to share their solutions and resulting images through social media during the Holiday season. And don’t forget to sign up at wppionline.com for her WPPI 2014 class, “How to Flatter Anyone, No Really Anyone,” in Las Vegas, Wednesday, March 5 (8:30 to 10 a.m.).