In May, I attended the At Edge Face to Face event in LA. It was one of the best ones yet.
Since At Edge was founded with the idea of being an exclusive marketing program that connects top creatives with the leading photography talent in the world, these events are a natural part of their program. Glen Serbin, the soul behind At Edge, works tirelessly to find relevant agency creatives that are otherwise hard for the photographers to meet and ensures that each person who commits to engaging with the portfolios does so understanding how highly the event is regarded amongst the photographers.
At each event I attended, the idea of community was a common thread. The event is a safe place for art buyers and creatives to mix with photographers and reps and for photographers and reps to meet each other. It is very non aggressive and provides an opportunity to share work without the distractions of the work day. Most importantly though, everyone involves recognizes that it is not a typical portfolio review but a chance to give photographers direct access to creatives who have the capacity to actually hire them.
It is obvious that everyone attending values photography as an art and appreciates each other for their participation. Everyone is thoughtful, friendly and open to seeing new work. Each reviewer takes their job seriously and the photographers appreciate that immensely.
At Edge seeks out an intimate venue, provides lavish food and an open bar. All of those things combined with the power of the photographic and creative community make for a very successful event. The mood is never chaotic and the energy is always upbeat and positive.
That said, the creatives are the critical part of the success. They are genuine in their feedback and interest and often offer their time to meet with the photographers again at their offices. Since the meetings are personal and the leads genuine, our photographers always walk away feeling like the new connection was meaningful.
These events have been hosted in NY, Chicago and San Francisco so far. I have had the good fortune of attending every one. Each one was better than the last. However, as the events grew in popularity, I worried over time, if they would grow in size and become less impactful.
It was at an event I attended in NY, when I wondered if the magic of the earlier events could actually fade. Changes had been put into place that aimed to make things more positive (ie: larger cocktail party and more reviewers) that actually took away some from the intimacy.
It was of course still powerful but just felt a little bit different. I know that some (including myself) offered feedback regarding this to Glen and his team (Susan Baraz and Elizabeth Owen) and they reacted right away to ensure that Face to Face would remain as strong as ever.
The recent LA event was a testament to how At Edge is a true marketing partner.
It was obvious that Glen, Elizabeth and Susan listened to the feedback and reminded us all why Face to Face is one of the strongest and most personal connections event out there.
Here is what was different this time and why I think it added to the success:
• There were 3 appointments per photographer – this made for a full evening. Providing an opportunity to meet with 3 different creatives/buyers allowed photographers to share their work with a greater variety of potential clients. For those who traveled from out of town it made the trip even more worthwhile.
• The room was well lit from above. It made for viewing photography and now video much better than a candle lit table or mood lit room.
• The cocktail hour was in the middle of the event. This allowed photographers yet another chance to connect with potential clients at a point when everyone is still excited and eager to meet rather than wait until the end when everyone is tired and maybe looking to head home. It also made it feel more private by having those who were attending and reviewing be part of the event. This went a long way towards that personal feeling the Face to Face event provides.
I should also add that while this wasn’t a change but a function of geography, the Los Angeles reviewers were so happy and eager to participate. Everyone always wonders if an LA event will be well attended since everyone is so spread out. I think the LA creative community, while indeed spread out, is so tight knit and dedicated to creativity that being asked to review for AtEdge was an honor that they accepted proudly.
Once again I was excited to go and show off what some in our group were up to and was proud to sit next to our photographers while they shared their latest work.
Thank you At-Edge for giving us such a powerful opportunity.