I met Julie Grahame a few years ago at a portfolio review, which felt like a very mild waste of time until I sat down at her table at the very end of the shindig. She was sharp, insightful, articulate, and very funny. A few months ago she started aCurator.com, a wonderful and highly entertaining online showcase for photography. So here, without further ado, is the The Heavy Light’s first guest blog written by the curious Julie Grahame:
I’ve always fancied publishing a magazine, having a desire to show more images than regular magazines do, and since I know a lot of interesting photographers I felt I could launch something with content that people would really enjoy. No bells or whistles, not much editorializing, just fabulous content. aCurator came about because Mike Hartley, owner of bigflannel web design and luckily also my husband, was brilliant enough to develop something straightforward for me to use which is gorgeous to look at. Photographers were really into being published in ZOOZOOM (full screen fashion magazine, launched in 2000, Webby Award winning, visionary, which Mike ran for a few years and latterly I worked for) so I thought I probably wouldn’t have trouble getting features from new contributors. And, happily, I was right. aCurator has brought some wonderful people back into my life (including yourself, Dirk) and a bunch of new contributors with whom I’m thrilled to have developed relationships.
It launched a few weeks ago and I’ve had new submissions daily; I’m still working out what schedule makes sense for viewers – one feature a week, or two? Thanks to Google Analytics I get plenty of data to muse upon. It’s important to me that I also have a blog, so I can publish more than I would put in the magazine itself. So far, the feature that has brought the most traffic is M. Sharkey’s ‘Queer Kids’.
© M. Sharkey
I’m asked what’s important in a photo and I find it a difficult question to answer – I go very much on my gut, but I can critique for a photographer pretty well. I’ve been in the photo biz for 20 years now, I’ve seen a whole lot of photographs; I want them to tell me something, make me feel something. Inevitably, there are some days that are utterly uninspiring and humorless, but I work on other stuff too so I can always take a break from aCurator and hope that tomorrow doesn’t bring children or animals.
As far as what I want to see, though, I’m really open to all kinds of work. As much as I like consistency, I will look at different styles from one photographer, but I do crave some info about the work – always nice and often lacking. Give me some sense of who you are; naturally, I try to do some research, but it’s almost like looking for staff – why, out of 100 resumes that are kind of similar, should I call YOU in for an interview? I don’t care how established you are, or not. For a good example, a British guy named Max Colson sent me an email explaining his interest in photojournalism, included a statement about his photo-video project, links to it and to his stills portfolio, and asked for feedback as to whether I thought he could be a fit for aCurator. Max is going in my blog, and hopefully in the magazine itself soon. I’m particularly interested in personal projects that the photographer has not published elsewhere and that would benefit from viewing in this format – I think of it as the best online tear sheet you’re likely to have for some time!
I could spend my entire work week on aCurator, but until it’s making some kind of income I can’t afford to do so. My aim right now is to develop a bigger mailing list and get a lot more viewers so that it is something I can market. Print sales, sponsorship, I think there are more opportunities to come.
You mentioned things like making difficult decisions, staying creative; I believe I am a good editor, it’s something I love to do, so if the hardest decision I have to make is whether to run 5, 6, 8, or 12 images from one contributor, I’m happy to have that problem! Staying creative, well, thanks to all you brilliant artists, I don’t have really have to. Mike is creative as far as the building and design of the site, he is always thinking about development, so I need to keep the magazine fresh to secure his creative input.