The Huffington Post was a large part of my life, but things change and mergers happen. I was one of the first few bloggers to be invited in when the site moved beyond politics and one of the first to be allowed into the Bryant Park tents to report on the once rarefied world of fashion.
My lexicon and understanding grew, my desire to create better work with newfound partnerships increased. The site helped me grow as an artist; with an ever-increasing roster of readers and opportunities to connect.
Encouraged to write and cover anything that my heart fancied and editorial nose sniffed out, I listened to some great stories and was invited to important shows, watching a myriad of ateliers unfurl their latest work. The mystery of how hemlines rose and fell unraveled before my eyes. At the start, editorial freedom was encouraged. As Huffington Post grew, however, it became impossible to balance the needs of the site, my own, and almost impossible to read – ever changing tea leaves of the industry. In the end, I was offered a PR-funded trip to Toronto Fashion Week and Diesel wanted me to go to Milan. The site said no and made it clear this was simply a platform for self-promotion and press trips were no longer allowed. On the flip-side, if I had deep pockets and sponsored my own trip I could write about it.
I feel like I should have pushed harder for a position at Huffington Post. I figured if Arianna made millions from a collective of free talent I should be allowed to share that success. One cannot live on swag alone. In my photography and my consulting, the offers to work for free became burdensome. As she took to the airwaves and the internet, Arianna made it even more clear that HuffPo was only a place to promote your project and no longer create salient editorial. She poached journalists from established publications – bloggers were out. When I started, there was only one editor per section and sometimes not even that.
Recently I got a statement in the mail informing me that Danny Meyers’ restaurant group withheld tips and reached a settlement with the court. Working for him I knew that was the case – many thousands of dollars were withheld from the many private events I worked. It wasn’t a good place, so I moved on. Out of the two million in the settlement fund, most will go to attorneys. I did the math on their resolution and it’s nowhere close to the amount of money they took from me and could do nothing about at the time. I’m assuming the same will happen in the HuffPo/AOL content suit. The lawyers will win.
So now I’m right back where I started before the PO. Just with a lot more wisdom, a lot more savvy, a lot more understanding of the web, a body of readers and great contacts.
The fact is, I love blogging. It pushes me forward, forces me to make work and test material online. It’s gotten me some great stories and jobs.
For this blog I want to focus on making photography. It’s been built in a certain fashion to tell a story. There’s the all-important slideshow. I write and take pictures. Not many sites support that, so this is a unique place on the web. I want to keep on breaking fashion news and keep on analyzing culture. How I report will change, because I won’t have the halo effect of The Huffington Post behind me, I’m on my own.
A good friend gave me a grant and I took a shocking amount of intensives at the School of Visual Arts, primarily focused on graphic design. My new portfolio, from site – to physical book, is a product of that new knowledge. Making a Picture, with it’s clear typography and easy to read lay out, wouldn’t have been possible without my attempt to work with code and the great gift of learning.
Over the past few months I’ve worked diligently to understand the business and branding of photography and understand how to communicate with art buyers and editors for the first time – go beyond just one publication or blog network. There’s something easy and seductive about just writing for Huffington Post, there was cache and they really did make it cushy to write for them. I did love working with my editor, she was quite awesome, but the question remained: If I was never hired by the publication and the owner made so much cash, how do I position myself to also share in the financial success? Because when work is funded, better work is created. It’s that simple.
So that’s what this blog will try to do. Not only be a place where I can make photography that’s near and dear to my heart, but also a place that can document my growth and remind people I exist. Hopefully I’ll give readers a few things to think about. I have profiles in the pipe and an article on Hermes counterfeits planned.
I hope you keep on reading. As fashion goes on and fashion houses reinvent themselves, so must I.