I was at my favorite local restaurant the other night when the owner, Siam (Sam) Saeng, seated another patron next to me at the sushi bar. Sam is what Malcolm Gladwell in The Tipping Point refers to as a "connector"—a guy who knows far more people than most people do, and is adept at making connections between them. He introduced me to Madison Ford because he know we're both into photography.
Turns out Madison runs a studio in Detroit called Midcoast Studio, shooting mostly, but not exclusively, cars and motorcycles. He's away from his family now, living in a hotel, while he and his crew are doing three months of intensive shooting for Harley-Davidson, which is based in Milwaukee.
It was fun to talk to a big-time advertising guy. He told me he runs all medium-format digital backs, but that he'd just bought his first DSLR, a Nikon D3x purchased a few weeks back. He said he was looking forward to trying it, but hadn't had time yet to take it out of the box.
Another story he talked about was about a client he'd heard of in L.A. who felt they needed to hire a photographer all the way from England for a relatively simple job. Like there are no competent photographers in L.A.—or the United States!
I know all about that kind of thing, having worked in Washington, D.C.—our studio, like virtually every other studio in D.C., regularly lost work to New York guys. In fact, I knew one photographer who had two studios, one in the Carolinas and one in Grand Rapids, Michigan—his bread and butter was furniture—who kept an office at a major office building complex in New York City. The office was an empty room with a phone and an answering machine in it. He kept it for the Manhattan address and the 212 area code.
There's more than one way to be a "New York guy."
And I'll bet there's a photographer in England right now sitting at a sushi bar shaking his head and telling an acquaintance about some barmy client who had to hire a shooter all the way from L.A. "Like nobody in London can take a decent photograph!" It's all the same the world around—the guy from "away" always has a bit of an edge on the locals.
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Original contents copyright 2010 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.