PDN’s 30: Advice for Emerging Photographers from Emerging Photographers

Location: Photoville Pavilion

Date: September 13th

Time: 3:30PM-4:30PM

Featuring: Holly Hughes (Moderator), Anna Beeke, Sara Macel, and Ryan Lowry

Presented by: PDN

Photographers featured in PDN’s 30: New and Emerging Photographers to watch will explain how they got their work seen and noticed, and offer advice for sharing, promoting and getting support for their personal projects.

Related Exhibition:
PDN’s 30 2015: Our Choice of New and Emerging Photographers to Watch

Anna Beeke
was a student looking for a photo project when she decided to explore the San Juan Islands in Washington, after her parents mentioned she’d been conceived there. “The images that resonated the most with me were in the forest,” she says. She began photographing woodlands around the country. Aware of the importance of forests in myth, Beeke felt her artistic exploration followed the arc of a journey into the unknown, “and then eventually you come out of the forest and you have this better sense of yourself, or sense of the world.” Shelving her strict documentary education, Beeke included herself in the photos, encouraged by photographer Elinor Carucci, one of her teachers at the International Center of Photography.

To fund the “Sylvania” series, Beeke applied for a small grant from Daylight Books. She didn’t win the grant, but Daylight decided to publish a book of the work anyway. The Kickstarter campaign Beeke launched last fall to fund the book’s production raised more than $29,000, boosted by a feature on The New York Times Lens blog.

Beeke says applying for grants, scholarships and juried exhibitions has helped fund “Sylvania,” and her new project on the culture aboard cruise ships. The rest of her funding “comes from my own shallow pockets.” Beeke shoots weddings, takes commercial assignments and works part-time in a restaurant. “[I] am forever broke, because all of my spare money goes into shooting trips or gear.”


HollySHughes_HEADSHOT_WEB01Holly Stuart Hughes is the editor-in-chief of Photo District News and PDNOnline.com, publications for professional photographers. During her tenure at PDN, the magazine has earned 6 Neal Awards from American Business Press for editorial excellence, a Focus Award from the Griffin Museum of Photography, and a citation from National Press Photographers Association for service to photojournalism. Each year the editors of PDN select 30 new and emerging photographers, the special PDN’s 30 issue. In 2015, PDN’s editors curated “Emerging,” an exhibition at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles that looks at recent trends in photography through the work of more than 90 photographers selected for PDN’s 30 within the last seven years.


Sara Macel‘s work occupies a niche at the intersection of photography, storytelling and memory. Her breakout success with “May the Road Rise to Meet You,” about her father’s work as a salesman, firmly established her style of “using photography to explore memory and how stories can change over time.” The series emerged from a larger project, her ongoing series “Rodeo Texas,” in which she explores “where I came from and the clichés of Texas, mixed with identifying as a Texan.”

After graduation, Macel spent two years as Bruce Davidson’s studio manager before returning to Texas. When she moved back to New York to work as a producer for the agency Art Department, she continued the “Rodeo Texas” series on vacations to Texas, but with no end date in mind. Seeking more structure, Macel enrolled in the School of Visual Arts’ MFA program. Macel is now teaching and freelancing for editorial and media clients. Last year, she scored her first ad job for M&C Saatchi client Societe Generale, a “complete dream job,” she says, documenting the international bank in her own style. Her biggest challenge now is managing her time as she balances teaching and creating. “That kind of juggling, when it’s all to benefit my career, is such a joy,” she says. “It’s nice to work hard when it’s for yourself.”


Whether He’s shooting for TIME amidst the intense heat inside an Indiana steel mill or documenting a day in the life of a young rapper, Ryan Lowry‘s intuition helps him find pictures. “I like being in the world and observing and reacting to how I personally feel in a situation,“ he says, “and then figuring out how to make that into an interesting photo.” After graduating from Columbia College, Lowry landed an assignment for the Chicago Reader through a friend. His portrait of a punk musician led to a Reader cover assignment to photograph a group of Chicago rappers. Other rap music work followed, most consistently from The FADER. Lowry has a section of his website devoted to his rap photographs, because he believes it shows “my ability to be thrown into a situation and make something out of it.” To drum up assignments, Lowry emails clients, often with an edit of photographs he thinks will appeal to their interests. He says working in Chicago’s less-saturated market has benefitted his nascent career, and he also isn’t shy about telling clients he has a car and is happy to drive for assignments. But more and more, people call him because they feel he’s right for a job, not because of his location. Lowry feels that “getting more assignments that fit me better personally” is the next step in his career.


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