Our year started with big plans to continue to lead by example, foster community, transform our team, and provide the same level of service we always have. Early in the year, we expanded our roster, welcoming artists Lupine Hammack and Brett Nadal, followed by Jennifer Davick and Dan Goldberg, rounding out our roster. We are proud to represent a driven, creative, talented group whose values we admire and share.
And, like that once in a lifetime shot of catching Big Foot in the background of a beautiful landscape, David Martinez captured the pre-COVID, empty NYC streets, something we never thought we’d see, an eery premonition and a study of contrasts of what was to come.
The global pandemic prompted a re-evaluation of our circumstances. I have always believed that difficulties are opportunities rather than setbacks. 2020 tested that resolve ten-fold. Despite the challenges brought on by the pandemic, we haven’t wavered in our positivity, declaring 2020 as the year of opportunity.
We Assessed, Deliberated, Waited, and Communicated
COVID came upon us overnight. Like the pioneers before us, we scouted out what this new normal meant for our community and set about clearing what we thought was a temporary hurdle. First, we wanted friends, colleagues, and clients to know about existing stock photography and what was visually possible. Dear Art Producer discussions shifted to covering current COVID topics. The state of affairs changed daily, making it difficult to keep up. I teamed up with Workbook’s Heidi Goverman to host a weekly webinar with various guests, addressing Where We Are Now, discussing topics in realtime. We continually came together to discuss the evolving guidelines and sharing best practices.
Because we thought this was a passing phase, rather than a permanent turn of events, we started collecting a Cornucopia of COVID19 tools from webinars, podcasts, and Instagram Live Q&As; an arsenal from which to draw on in the future.
Sheltering in place and living with uncertainty slowly became the norm. As a result, we shared essays from the HER family, showing we were all in this Waiting Room together.
R&D Was the Name of the Game
Our roster of artists got to work researching, documenting, and testing safety protocols on-set. Tim Tadder tested protocols on five different projects, making practice almost perfect; Doug Menuez helped us see that delivering authenticity while donning PPE is nothing new, reassuring us we can do it again. Jason Lindsey showed us it IS possible to produce work with a lean team and do it well. Through careful study, Dan Goldberg proved it can still feel like family on-set with safety protocols in place.
Lupine Hammack evolved his capabilities significantly during the pandemic’s restrictions, showing us his CAN-do attitude, offering more to clients with varying levels of need during the creative process. Cade Martin demonstrated the new safety protocols on-set required adaptability in action.
Jennifer Davick dove head-first into virtual productions, not only using tech to collaborate in real-time, but on a motion project for Anolon Cookware, addressed the needs of virtual decision-making, the heightened importance of pre-production, doing trial runs of virtually communicating, and production post-mortems.
Living with the unexpected has meant finding joy — and a creative outlet — wherever and however we could. Andy Anderson took the opportunity to go out his back door, fulfilling a dream and completing a series of the Owyhee Canyonlands. Brett Nadal stayed close to home too, opting to expand his equine series with imagery from his neighborhood Broken Arrow riding club.
Still, others created new and unexpected work, like Cade Martin creating virtual portraits through computer cameras.
Both Brett Nadal and Andy Anderson each responded to commercial needs for imagery, creating commercial and personal work from their homes and studios, using family and friends as talent. We realized there are plenty of artists with these same capabilities and that the industry needed to get to work again, so, in partnership with Location Scout, Jim Baldwin, Create in Place came into being.
The Community Came Together
Many artist’s reps informally and regularly collaborate and communicate, myself included. But, we needed more and it was time to create something that could benefit our entire industry. In October, we launched the Artist Management Association after researching and planning for it much of the year. The AMA is a trade association acting on behalf of companies representing Photographers, Artists, Directors, Creative Directors, Stylists, and other creative talent who work in the commercial photography and fine art industries dedicated to bringing the community together on important issues and initiatives. As one of seven founding board members, I am thrilled to see it thriving.
Tackling the unknown is so much better when having someone by your side. With businesses unable to operate and productions shut down, many realized there would be a need to help those in the advertising community. From HER artists to art producers, directors, and photographers industry-wide, people proved that selflessness is beautiful. Tim Tadder, Jason Lindsey, and others turned ink into financial support with the Art for Assistants campaign, while Cade Martin created freelancer’s portraits, highlighting The Creative Now.
We were all needing mental care. Our artists provided care from varied perspectives and then some. Lupine Hammack offered imagery of A Calm Place for some much-needed zen for anyone that needed it. Hunter Freeman set out to document community and kindness by creating an ongoing series of images and stories asking the question, Who’s My Neighbor?
Doug Menuez answered the call as well, by directing several films on Gratefulness featuring advice and teachings from Benedictine Monk, David Steindl-Rast.
For his part, Mark Laita continued to conduct hundreds of interviews, chronicling vulnerability, creating films and stills of those living on Los Angeles’ Skid Row. His ongoing project, meant to create awareness of things that are broken in our country, got everyone’s attention by going viral on YouTube and through major media outlets.
It’s all Open-Road From Here
This year of opportunity brought innovation, creativity, grit, and generosity, to name a few, and we couldn’t be more proud. As I look at the holiday puzzle laid out on the table in front of me, I remember that each choice, each moment, each situation has significance in life — what we do to solve the puzzle makes all the difference. We see only good things ahead.
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!