Redeye Reps, based in Los Angeles, is a company with a slightly different view to most commercial reps. “Redeye represents photographers and illustrators to magazines, ad agencies and design firms. We specialize in working with artists who are also pursuing a fine art career, supporting all aspects of their craft. The idea being that when their artwork is noticed, they then become more commercially viable. And when an artist has a strong commercial and editorial base, they ultimately have more freedom to pursue their personal projects.”
Redeye’s founder Maren Levinson was interviewed by our contributor Julia Sabot towards the end of last year.
P&A: You founded Redeye Represents, Inc. almost nine years ago, and understand the world of photography extremely well. How do you recommend an architect go about finding the right photographer to suit their needs? Are there certain styles they should consider?
ML: Well, every architect has a different style, so I would think it would be about recognizing their own voice that they want to communicate, and then finding a photographer whose personal and photographic vision aligns. For example, some photographers depict spaces in a very lit, slick and formal way, while others are much more casual and incorporate natural light, evidence of the humans who occupy the space.
Noah Webb, on my roster, combines natural and artificial light in a way that is both warm and balanced. Rarely do people have any idea how hard he actually works on subtle lighting because it does not look too forced or garish. To get it to appear that elegant and unforced, he is operating strategically in the background.
Dwell magazine city guide, 2009. © Noah Webb
Esto is a more traditional agency with great architectural photographers for large corporate spaces. This work will be very formal and monumental. But honestly, if your architectural work is experimental, you might want a more experimental photographer. It’s certainly happened that a rock and roll photographer has been hired for an architectural project and done a good job.
Like with everything, the more research you do, the better match you will find. Looking in magazines, taking note of interior catalogues, furniture brochures and anything you find that you feel is successful visually is helpful to take note of. Most photographers are credited in magazines and you can always contact photo editors for their recommendations. Also, your peers in the architecture and interior worlds should be helpful in making suggestions. I’d try to find someone local for budgetary reasons and for easy collaboration.
I would also look for people who have done this before so you are not re-inventing the wheel. It’s a good idea to look for someone you can develop a long-term relationship with. Assuming you will have multiple upcoming projects, it is nice to develop a shorthand with a photographic collaborator so you know what to expect and can hit the ground running every time without having to re-explain your needs and re-estimate. Meet the person if you can. Rarely is it just about the resulting images but also about what it’s like to work with the photographer.
P&A: After a photographer is found, what is the process for hiring?
ML: After you meet someone you think is a good match, I’d ask for an estimate, no matter how informal you want to be. Ask about fee, and if it is separate from expenses, ask what rights you will have. I’d also ask about post (retouching), as some photographers do it themselves, but some outsource it, which can get very expensive per image. It’s a lot of work, and most clients are surprised that digital images are not ready as they are captured. Extensive work is extremely time-consuming and expensive (moving trees, furniture, creating a blue sky on a grey day, erasing telephone wires or eradicating distracting construction views).
Dwell magazine prefab issue, 2013. Home near Clearlake, CA by architect Taalman Koch. © Noah Webb
Let the photographer know if you have a budget in mind, and if your favorite photographer comes in too high, please give them the chance to meet your budget. Often they will if they can. I always see people collect 3 bids and choose the cheapest and then find themselves somewhat disappointed at their options, but what they don’t know is that most photographers want to work and make pictures and if it’s the difference of them having 2 assistants or one, or lowering their fee or equipment to develop an ongoing relationship, they most often will.
P&A: What are the costs associated with hiring a photographer?
ML: There should be a day rate, which tends to average $2,000 – $3,000 depending on the photographer and the scope of the use. Then there should be an assistant at $200-$350. If it’s a huge project, there will be multiple assistants. If the photographer is working with a large format camera, they will likely have a digitech at $500, and more gear. Lighting can range anywhere from $250 to $1,000 depending on the scope of the space, the creative requirements and the available light. Some photographers will scout the location for free, some will ask to be paid for that time. Again, it depends on the overall budget and expectations. Post can be $40-$150 per image and that’s without any extreme splicing. That said, people have come to us and said, we have $2,500 all in and if we can do it, and the space is not too crazy, and we are creatively aligned, we will do it happily.
P&A: If an architect is going to shoot an interior of a home, do you recommend they also hire a prop stylist?
ML: Again, this depends on the feeling you want to project with the pictures. A prop stylist always makes things more put-together and interesting and inviting if the space is empty. They are also great at re-arranging what is existing in a space and making sense of it and organizing things in a way that are innovative and complimentary to the architecture. So yes, if you can afford it, it’s great. If you have a small budget, and the space is clean or you want it to feel warm and accessible and utterly real, then you can probably do without a stylist.
American Cement Building. Coalesse furniture advertisement, 2009. © Noah Webb
P&A: Is there anything architects should be aware of or expect when working with a professional photographer?
ML: Don’t forget about the weather! There should be a cancellation policy or weather provision set up in advance, especially if there are multiple exterior shots on the list. Professional photographers are freelance. If they take your job, it is likely they are saying no to another. If you cancel without any notice due to weather or scheduling, they will want some sort of compensation for the day they did not accept another job. Mostly photographers will be reasonable about this and if they are local, could be ok with waiving it, but it should be discussed in advance.
Also, the more you prepare, the better the resulting imagery. Try to come up with a shot list before the shoot. It’s unrealistic to think you can show up with a photographer and take a tour of the home and snap pictures of everything you need in a day without proper planning and strategizing. Photographers need to set up and light every shot. You should ask them how many images they think they can accomplish in a day. Create a wish list of images you want and prioritize that list so they know which images are an absolute must to capture. Then you can add extra credit images and details in case they find themselves with more time.
It is extremely helpful for a photographer to be able to refer to this list and then no one is disappointed that a certain view or architectural detail is not included in the final images even though you thought you mentioned it in passing. A written list is a great reference point and ensures no one is let down at the end of the day or unclear about what is expected.
Finally, have some fun. Photographers are people too. And they are creative souls who often love architecture (after all, it’s all about space and light). If you treat your photographers well and recognize that they might need a break for lunch, they will go the extra mile for you. Heck, you might even get a discount on the next shoot!
Maren went on to mention “These images were by Meiko Takechi Arquillos for Anthology Magazine. I’m just showing that people who don’t usually do architecture can sometimes pull it off with a quirky eye (she is known for kids and funky still life work).”