A well-designed solution for the age-old problem of finding the right photographer.
Written by: Jessica Gordon
Being a photo editor or an art director means having the constant inner dialogue of "Who is that Phoenix-based photographer I met who shoots food?" or "Where can I find a fashion and lifestyle photographer in Minneapolis?" There's always someone you need and someone you can't find.
As a co-founder of NYCFotoWorks, Joshua Herman sought to solve that. Routinely asked these kinds of questions by creatives who attended his portfolio reviews, he thought: wouldn't it be more streamlined if the photographers who participated in FotoWorks could become part of an online gallery where their portfolios were easily searchable by art directors/buyers, photo editors, designers and other creatives?
"I asked agencies and buyers how they were finding new photographers and it turned out that online platforms wasn't high on the list," Herman says. "They complained about the interfaces and design of platforms out there."
What did these creatives like? "Instagram. Pintrest. Airbnb." he says.
So Herman, with FotoWorks partner Marc Asnin, went forth with the seed of a new idea: A photography collective that ran on a user-friendly platform and was designed to feel more like walking through a gallery than running a search engine. It would need to be elegant, and image-forward, with minimal text and easily searchable by genre, location and name.
After finding enough design inspiration, Herman created the site's elements and worked with a developer to get it up and running. A year later, Boulevard is live. And with it, BLVD Select--an invite-only curated collection of photographers Boulevard promotes throughout the year.
"We chose the name Boulevard because it conjures up thoughts of beautiful thoroughfares like the Champs-Élysées in Paris," Herman says. "That's the same feeling we want to give creatives when they visit the site--a curated stroll through premier commercial and editorial photography."
Plus, a personalized dashboard allows creatives to collect, save, and organize artists into a useful collection they can refer back to anytime. "Instead of just discovering new photographers, now creatives can keep them organized in one online place that they can easily access from any device," Herman says.
Aesthetics aside, with a monthly newsletter, an active blog and FotoWorks/Boulevard Portfolio Reviews, Herman and Asnin's idea is to extend their creative community to one where art buyers and photographers can more easily develop collaborative relationships.
Now with a selection of almost 200 photographers and visits by a slew of creatives who've created their personalized dashboards, the mobile-responsive site has received glowing feedback, particularly for its usability and design.
"Every new business calls for a different array of work and I have always needed a resource to help me access the right photographers for the right clients," says James Rothwell, Group Creative Directors for Publicis New York. "Boulevard allows me to track these artists' work and when the right client comes along, I can easily contact the photographer who is right for the job."
BLVD Select also gives creatives a further curated list of artists to explore. Although by invite-only, there are memberships available for BLVD Select for interested professional photographers.
"Our idea with BLVD Select is that forming and nurturing relationships with creatives is the best form of promotion for photographers. By ensuring a high caliber of photography and creating a peer-to-peer dynamic within this tightly curated group, we're able to promote these photographers through intimate BLVD Select Portfolio Reviews around the country, events creatives will certainly enjoy attending," Herman says.
Taking the place of sourcebooks, BLVD Select's digital design quarterlies are interactive, easily sharable and archived in the creative's personalized dashboard on Boulevard so that they can refer back to them anytime in the future, rather than tossing out a physical promotion piece or book.
With the additions of Boulevard and BLVD Select to the community that FotoWorks has already created, the whole experience of creative interaction is elevated--or as Herman says, "it's a space that has equal value for photographers, agents and creatives."