Who Is Nancy Falconi and Why Do People Pay For Her Photos?

Nancy Falconi shot a photo of her kids that collectively made her around $20,000! She shot an olive branch while in Europe that netted her $10,000.2848650_300x300

Her photography is simple, unaffected and one might say even amateurish to a point. It’s certainly not technical or overly manipulated.

Of course that’s me saying that. The editors of Parent’s Magazine and Yoga Journal and many others found her work perfect for their publications.

Nancy Falconi was the guest speaker at the Oakville Camera Club last night and I found her photographic journey fascinating.

As many of you know I was a photojournalist and a newspaper and magazine editor and writer. I’ve taught photography to thousands of students now and I was a photo editor as well.

I’ve helped new photographers create their portfolios (Keep it to 20 shots or less on the same subject. Your portfolio only gets you an interview or a tentative trial assignment. Don’t work for nothing but it doesn’t hurt to accept a photo credit or two in a local magazine or community newspaper to get you started. Not everyone agrees with this suggestion.)

Nancy Falconi’s work would never had been published in any of my publications!

Do not misunderstand me: There’s nothing wrong with Falconi’s work. In fact, there’s much that’s very right about it. But it’s the direction of Falconi’s journey into photography that’s instructional here.

A mainly self-taught photographer like myself, Falconi transitioned from the dreary 220px-Sally_Manncorporate world by shooting the things she loved around her home. Like the amazing Sally Mann, the great American photographer (who was called in 2001 by Time Magazine America’s Best Photographer) Falconi shot her children and the things around her home.

As she told the camera club, a carefully crafted portfolio of made-up model photos sent to art directors and followed up by mass email campaigns netted her nothing but her shots of the kids caught the eye of a New York City portfolio consultant and the rest is history.

So why would Falcon’s work would never have been published by me? It’s because I was buying images that suited my publications. We didn’t use images of kids but it was the images of her children that (again much like Sally Mann) opened the doors to being published elsewhere.

One of the lessons here is not to quit. Don’t let other’s opinions suppress your own. Keep shooting. It’s not the equipment. It’s the vision. It’s the heart. It’s the photographer.

This was instructional:

A question about what to shoot that came from an audience member prompted Falconi to ask the audience member what was she passionate about? The answer, eventually, was portraits. And Falconi’s suggestion to start shooting portraits (I’m paraphrasing here.) was rebuffed by the comment that the shooter didn’t know if there was market for her images.

This is the old what came first argument: the chicken or the egg dilemma!

Falcon’s point is shoot what you love and the art directors will follow 🙂 or something like that.

I was thinking if I was that young woman and I really, really wanted to be a professional photographer I’d drag my camera to the club meetings which are held in a massive windowless, black-draped, dim presentation hall perfect for shooting portraits of 100-plus club members.

I’d bring a stool and with one light aimed into a softbox and I’d plead for volunteers to pose before my lens at every opportunity. I’d keep this up until either the club banned me from attending or I learned how to shoot amazing portraits of ordinary people.

All in all, it was a very instructional night at the Oakville Camera Club.

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