ON SEEING, A JOURNAL #456
AtEdge: The Image Is The Hero
February 15, 2022
A propelling desire of any creative artist is to “get the work out there,” letting the world – especially those important to any particular art form — know what’s being created and to announce, simply: “Look at this!”
Photographers who make a living doing commercial work need to show the world of advertising not only that they are alive and well and available, but what they are currently producing.
There are many methods of “self-advertising,” though none is entirely effective or foolproof. In the fairly recent past photographers would utilize direct mail, participate in formal portfolio reviews, send copies of their books to agencies, try to garner attention by contributing to magazines through editorial assignments, or purchase pages in source books that could be sent to advertising art directors.
Now, in our digital age, getting this kind of attention would seem to be easy. But in fact, just the opposite is true. The amount of visual “noise” on the net is deafening. To have a given body of work singled out is at least as luck-based as trout fishing. Curatorial promotional help is crucial.
This note is about a remarkable company, AtEdge, that currently produces/publishes impressive, high quality, professionally curated and beautifully designed source books of the work of its associated photographers. In addition, the mission of the company is to connect top level photographers and directors with important creative executives and art directors using these source books as well as a wide variety of platforms using the internet.
AtEdge was conceived and developed by Glen Serbin, the visionary founder of Serbin Communications. His idea was to develop a premium marketing program where agency creatives could find just the right photographers for ad campaigns.
A few years ago, Glen sold his company to Bill Daniels, a Harvard MBA who has worked for many years in big business and the world of finance. Significantly, Daniels is a lover of photography and the creative visual world. And, he collects fine art photographs. His desire for the company is to continue showing the most highly regarded professional imagery to the world.
AtEdge invites 150 respected commercial photographers to submit their best work and publishes four booklets of that work each year, one per season (or every 90 days). The booklets are sent to national and international advertising creatives, including art directors, art buyers and producers, in-house art departments, freelance creative directors, and senior-level decision makers.
Dozens of AtEdge quarterly booklets I’ve and collected over the years. A very recent modification in the size and design of the booklet accounts for the slightly larger one leaning on the right.
As a multiple marketing platform utilizing books, social media and even face-to-face meetings, AtEdge has a strong online presence. Its website promotes photographers to agencies looking for top tier work. Specialized and geographical search tools help them home in on the best talent for particular jobs. Once AtEdge photographers are selected, they can showcase unlimited images and video clips.
AtEdge also uses other platforms such as an e-newsletter received by more than 20,000 subscribers worldwide, as well as blogs and email blasts. AtEdge also enables one-on-one meetings between photographers and agency creatives.
Currently, AtEdge has a small, highly talented staff. The president, Tamara Dempsey, a graduate of the Brooks Institute of Photography, is an experienced, generous and passionate leader who has helped the company become an elite organization that spotlights the finest work in commercial photography.
Francesca Galassi is the AtEdge director of photography. As a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, she has a background in film, painting and photography and has worked with writers, directors and visual imagists for many years.
The two collaborate in a constant search for what they call “being wowed,” and work closely with photographers to identify and submit their very best work. In phone interviews, they told me that they look for photographs “we’d want to hang on our walls or on the walls of a gallery or museum.”
I also spoke with the production manager, Barbara Kuhn who, among other things, does her gentle best to encourage photographers to get their images in on time. I think she used the word “pester.”
I reviewed the current images on the AtEdge website and selected a dozen images that resonate with me because of their originality, imagination and inventiveness. Most of the images I admired are not ones I would or could ever do for myself, but I was moved in one way or another by each.
Ph: Andrew Burkle
Ph: Andy Mahr. “Who Brought the Snacks.”
Ph: Dan Schrock. “Oakley Crowbar Fire Iridium Snow.”
Ph: Dana Neibert. “Hoover in New Zealand.”
Ph: Michael Tucker. “Determination.”
Ph: Jeremiah Watt. “Sunset in the Winds.”
Ph: Jane Richey. “Qian in Union Square.”
Ph: John Lawton. “Sponge Study 002.”
Ph: John Myers. ” Don’t Let the Stink Out there Get In Here.”
Ph: Lisa Wiseman. “July 31; Janet M.”
Ph: Max Klein. “Abyss.”
Ph: Zachary Scott. “The Golden Years.”
A note about the study of the work of others: for anyone to accomplish, in their chosen life’s endeavor, their highest possible level of achievement, I believe, strongly, that one must be a continual scholar. It is important to study and learn what came before, to constantly examine what is currently being produced by others, everywhere, and have some understanding and intellectual curiosity about what the future holds. In this spirit, I examine and study the work of other creative photographers
Although I am always thrilled to submit work to AtEdge, more than anything is the thrill of receiving their beautiful booklets every three months.