Professional: Jacqueline Tobin
Position: Editor-in-chief at Rangefinder Magazine
Years in the biz: 5 years at Rangefinder, 20+ years at Photo District News
If you’ve tuned in before, you already know the drill: Each week, we bring you a different successful photographer to spill it all when it comes to their business. Today we’re changing it up and talking to Jacqueline Tobin, editor-in-chief at Rangefinder Magazine. This super important lady is also super approachable, and she is going to tell you exactly how to contact her and catch her eye.
The Tobin Tattler
Jacqueline is the first person on this podcast that is not a professional photographer, though she is well versed in the field. She studied communications in college because she wanted to write about photographers–she never thought she was good enough to go pro. She credits her love of storytelling and journalism to her father’s creation of a family newsletter, The Tobin Tattler, back when she was a kid. She was assigned stories and participated in the publishing process from start to finish: photography, writing, layout.
Just out of college, Jacqueline found a job ad for Photo District News. They were hiring an assistant editor, and it was a perfect fit–so perfect she stayed there for 27 years! She sometimes wonders if she should have branched out and tried something different, but in the end, Jacqueline believes it worked out for the best. During her time at PDN she was able to write two books: Wedding Photography Unveiled, which showcased work from a variety of photographers and styles, and The Luminous Portrait: Capture the Beauty of Natural Light for Glowing, Flattering Photographs, a collaboration with photographer Elizabeth Messina.
How to Impress Jacqueline
One of the awesome things about Jacqueline is she’s open. She says she loves to look at work and discover new talent. Want to hit her up? Send her an email–she doesn’t answer the phone. If you’re a wedding or portrait photographer, reach out. She’ll consider anyone that writes to her. (If your work is all about cars or wilderness, don’t expect to get in the magazine, but she may give you a tip or two.)
If you really want to take it up a notch, you’ll want to punch her in the gut with your photos. Give something that strikes a chord, evokes some emotion. She is looking for storytelling, whether that’s in a single image or across a portfolio.
While we’re talking about portfolios, Jacqueline does portfolio reviews at the PhotoPlus Expo in Palm Springs (she’s also a judge in the print competition at WPPI). Here’s some important tips to remember when presenting your portfolio:
- Don’t use an iPad –or worse, your phone– to show off your images. If you want your clients to believe in the “power of print,” you should also. “This is your art, your life blood, your brand,” Jacqueline says. Do it right.
- Don’t hide the gems in the middle. Start with your strongest images or you’ll risk losing interest.
- Tell a story from beginning to end.
Print vs Digitals
Yeah, the power of print! Let’s examine that. Think about what a photograph is, Jacqueline says. You’re preserving a moment in history, a memory, for all time. These deserve to be printed, put in albums, flipped through for generations. Shooting to burn and USB drives? That’s just automating our art, cutting out the heart and soul of photography. Photos in a file are as good as photos in a fire. They’re basically gone. That emotional connection just isn’t there with digitals. (Not to mention the up-sell potential for prints. It’s a win-win situation, people.)
Trends in the Industry
As someone who has been in the industry for such a long time, Jacqueline shared some thoughts about what has changed over the last ten years. Here’s what she said:
- A focus on branding and promoting your brand
- Social media as a way to connect with clients anywhere in the world and really show off your personality as a way to differentiate yourself from the rest
- A turn towards workshops and becoming educators, not just photographers
Since she brought up social media, let’s go ahead and talk Instagram. Two photographers she pointed out were Jose Villas, who started out with a scrawny following and, seemingly overnight, gained several thousand followers. The beauty of his feed is how he curates it: the color palette is consistent and it looks like a fine-art gallery. He even scored a job shooting the wedding of one of the Instagram founders!
PRO TIP: He tags all the vendors that he worked with in a particular image and in time has become a sort of ambassador for many well-known brands.
Vanessa Joy, a prominent wedding photographer, is also someone whose feed Jacqueline admires.
Rangefinder and WPPI
The last awesome thing you should know is that Rangefinder is actually the official magazine for WPPI, and Jacqueline is herself a judge in the 30 Rising Stars print competition. WPPI is a must, Jacqueline says, because there’s no substitute for face-to-face networking and making friends that you’ll see year after year. And the educational opportunities are unparalleled. Jacqueline herself gave a keynote that focused on emerging photographers and business tips for the first five years.
Two of Jacqueline’s favorite photographers that she sees each year are Gian Carlo (he’s got a gritty photojournalistic approach to weddings) and Mantas Kubilinskas (check out his black and white work especially). The exposure to all the talent and knowledge you get at WPPI is just something you need. So do it!
Jacqueline has so much information to share with the world, and if you’ve been listening, you’ll see just how accessible she is. Listen to the full podcast for even more details and behind-the-scenes gossip, and make sure to check out Rangefinderonline.com.