“Love the work you do and stand behind it.”

Lauren Steel is a Managing Editor at Reportage by Getty Images and is responsible for a group of renowned photographers (Such as Columbia grad Katie Orlinsky, whose photos are featured above). She started at Getty Images in 2003 as an entertainment assignment editor for the newswire, and she has been a part of the Eddie Adams Workshop faculty for the last 8 years. We spoke to Lauren about what she looks for in photographers, and what photojournalists who want representation with Getty need to pay attention to. (Also check out our interview with Lauren on becoming a photo editor.)

CV: What characteristics do look for in emerging photographers?

Lauren Steel: Drive and passion as well as talent.  It is a competitive world out there and the key to getting in the door is being proactive and finding new and original ways to tell a story.

CV: How do you help cultivate potential in a young photographer? How do you help them find their own voice?

LS: Encourage them to experiment with different approaches until they find the one they are most comfortable with.  Also finding subjects that they are passionate about is so important.  You can tell when a photographer is just doing a story because they feel they need to instead of wanting to. Attend workshops when and where you can – they provide incredible support and introductions to a diverse group of editors and photographers.  I’ve worked at the Eddie Adams workshop for the last 9 years and it always leaves me so inspired even after being in the business for over 15 years.

CV: What tips would you give to photographers looking to be represented by Reportage by Getty Images?

LS: Know the photographers that we work with and their specialties and then make sure that you can offer something different.  We pride ourselves on the fact that each of our photographers can offer something unique and that their styles and subjects do not overlap for the most part.

CV: What are some of the worst mistakes you see photographers making when they work with you? Or reach out to you?

LS: Communication is so key in this business.  Photographers need to keep me up to speed with their whereabouts and schedules as well as what they are comfortable covering.  We don’t want to be pitching a photographer that we think is in one place and isn’t, or pitching a photographer for something that they are not comfortable doing.  When photographers reach out they need to make a connection with me that will grab my attention.  Bcc’d emails that are sent out to mass amount of editors at once turn me off.  Take the time to send a personal note and why I should be interested in their work.  Don’t send large files that will crash my computer. Send a few jpegs or even a kickass image embedded in the email and then a link to your website.

CV: What do you look for when you’re looking at a portfolio? What should a photographer be putting together to meet with you?

LS: I look for strength and consistency in all their images, your portfolio is as strong as the weakest picture.  They need to be passionate about what they are showing me and stand behind it. I will always ask what they are currently working on or what is next for them and all photographers should be prepared for this question.

CV: Who are your top three favorite photographers of all time?

LS: This is so hard – it is constantly changing but the ones that are always on the top of my list are Josef Koudelka, Elliott Erwitt, W. Eugene Smith.

CV: Is there anything else that you would like to share?

LS: I’ve mentioned the word “passion” a number of times in my answers and it’s not because I can’t think of another word it’s because it is so important in the work that photographers do no matter what their focus is on.  I can recognize it immediately and without it the work can end up being flat and not compelling.  Love the work you do and stand behind it.

For more from Lauren Steel check out  this Q & A on becoming a photo editor.

Bought and Sold tear-sheets courtesy of Lauren Steel. Photos by Katie Orlinsky.

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