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The Art of the Edit

The last few years have been a turbulent time for the industry and for Marvi and I personally. Basically, editorial photojournalism is not what it once was, and my kids have a serious lego and eating habit. As our careers and family grew, we realized that we needed and wanted to diversify and expand beyond the small specialized editorial world we inhabited. We had to expand our knowledge base of clients and reach out to people who we didn’t know and who didn’t know us. Finding the right team was a combination of luck and patience and when we met with Peter Berberian and Jennifer “JP” Perlmutter at Agency Access, we knew that we wanted them on our team. Together they helped us translate our vision into one that is pertinent to the advertising world, but still true to our aesthetic style. We sat down for a quick interview with Agency Access as they were curious about the personal and professional gains and pitfalls we experienced during the process.

Agency Access: Was there an emotional rollercoaster you went through when you began gathering up your work for the edit?

Ben Lowy: Rebranding and editing is stressful because the images on the current website are ones we already love. From an emotional stand point – every picture I take is a little part of me, so when editing and throwing images out, it can sometimes sting. That’s why it’s always best to have a partner who doesn’t mind proverbially slapping you in the face with image rejection. My least favorite time is the end of the year when you have to go back through your whole year of images and determine if you did anything you think will be worthwhile. A re-edit is even worse because you have to go back through your entire career and wonder why the f*k you edited that particular image or why you toned that face to look like a giant ripe tomato.

AXS: What were your feelings when it came to handing your images over to someone else to edit?

BL: Handing over images to someone else is tough. It’s like having a stranger look through your dirty laundry and inspect your underwear for holes. Your raw take is incredibly personal, it’s a map of how we think visually, of how we compose and all the evidence of the f*ckups we made (as well as a few weird selfies in inappropriate places). You really have to trust the person editing your work. Hopefully they won’t start a blackmail campaign against you. There is a reason not to bring your camera with you to every photo soiree.

AXS: Were there unexpected images or creative direction included in the edit?

BL: Besides starting with the images in our first website, we went back to look for slightly different pictures that had a different emotional resonance. Since I was coming from a conflict photography background, I had a lot of ground to maneuver considering that the new advertising website would have no war zone imagery. It’s almost like creating a new photographic personality by presenting images and perspectives that no one has ever seen and that I have never acknowledged.

AXS: What advice would you give artists who need a website update

BL: Website updates are like a spring cleaning of your photographic vision. Sometimes you need a tabula rasa and re-envision how you present yourself. Don’t be afraid to explore a new visual identity. Just make sure you have people you trust in your corner to give you an honest feedback, and know that even though it can be a blow sometimes their goal is to make sure you present your best work. That picture you thought was awesome and want to have front and center might not resonate with anyone else. It is also important to note that we stayed true to my style of photography so even though I shoot in different genres, everyone on the team made sure that we show aesthetic consistency in style and approach.

To view more of Ben’s work visit his site. Also, check out his Humana Outreach in Mississippi video.

Ben Lowy

Benjamin Lowy is New York City based, award winning photographer. He’s eaten monkey brains and boiled larvae. He’s climbed a mountain or three and also received a BFA from Washington University in St. Louis in 2002 and began his career covering the Iraq War in 2003. Since then he has covered major stories worldwide. Sometimes he is even asked to hijack companies' Instagram accounts and get paid for it. In 2004 Lowy attended the World Press Joop Swart Masterclass, he was named in Photo District News 30 and his images of Iraq were chosen by PDN as some of the most iconic of the 21st century. In 2011 Lowy's Iraq | Perspectives work was selected by William Eggleston to win the Duke University Center for Documentary Studies/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography. In 2012, Lowy was awarded the Magnum Foundation Emergency fund to continue his work in Libya. In the same year, he received the International Center of Photography (ICP) Infinity Award for Photojournalism. In 2014, at the age of 35, Lowy received a Distinguished Alumni Award from Washington University in St Louis.

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