Man Behind the Camera
All right so this is your second time with the pot getting our concern Osama veteran okay known at the table. No crunchy snacks crunchy snacks. No no shaking of the coffee ice loud. There are months where like weeks will go by. We're I'm like how am I literally. Don't know where your I will not have seen you for two weeks. Yeah that is basically the story of my life. Sometimes I don't even know where I am. I'll wake up hotel. Mike Oh yeah no. I'm in Appleton Wisconsin. Oh No oh now I'm in San Antonio Texas. Yeah I mean we talk about a few issues in your job in general but in our travel issue that came on May so you you shot almost the entire feature will yeah does may two thousand nineteen you were in Beirut with Andy Burgundy tracked and then you I'm just flip through the pages then you were in Taipei with Suli and also burgundy and Andy any wanted to tag on everything so that was a big photo portfolio of yours your shot in Allison Rome in spring break menu story that was just in New York yeah that was here in the building the buildings that was as basic recipe story and then you shot photos for our red sauce America package which brought you. Where did you go for this one? Oh man that was a lot. I think that was six cities L. A. L. A. Philly New Orleans. Oh my God. Where did I go? I mean you literally can't remember yeah I it was like four to five cities. I guess my first question is I think a lot of fans of yours. WanNa know like how do you end up as a staff dog for at a food magazine like whenever someone asked me about this is I'm the worst possible personnel asked because it's purely luck and circumstance stance and my only goal and still the only like hey just don't get fired and spend closing up on your six and I still get asked to come back every day and there were definitely moments early on we're Alex pollick grocer artificial photo department critic Blake. I'M GONNA kill Lau a huge mistake so you start off as an intern turn years ago yeah. That's my freshman year of college. I just wanted to do something with my life and not just go home for the summer to California and you know Oh bummer and my parents house so I wanted to find an internship and I've always had a fascination with the magazine world apply too much internships. Nobody got got back to me in like a week. Before summer started. I saw a posting for esquire magazine to be a fashion closet intern. Oh and I was like that sounds cool. That sounds way out of my reach. I am hugely under qualified for that but I'M GONNA shoot my shot and Michael Steph. who was the fashion assistant at the time got back to me? He's like when can you come in based on what oh it. Did you have background. It was the most underqualified letter ever. It was basically hey. Here's my resume. I was a lifeguard in high school. I was a high school tutor and I intern at the State House in Massachusetts in politics nothing related to magazines but I really love menswear and here's like my favorite menswear blogs and here's my favorite brands brand's. I like fashion. I can work hard and he got back to me. Can I just say that. I am a lot of times when I talked to young people who are just out of college in their writing you you know letters to inquire about a job and they read like they're written by a law firm. I'm always like learning be yourself. Be passionate sort of expose yourself so to speak but that's what's GonNa grab some somebody's attention one hundred. I think the way I showed her. The letter wasn't like the formerly hi my name's dogs home. Hey My name's Alex. I'm really excited about this. I know him not meant for this Gig but I will do whatever it takes gap and so forth and they took a chance on me and that kind of was my segue into the New York City magazine publishing world and it turns out having square on your resume. Just opens opens up a lot of doors but it was great. It was just my eighteen years old. I didn't get paid but I got to see how magazines work I've got to be on fashion shoots Justin Timberlake Lake and Ryan Gosling and wow poll like hold fourteen thousand dollar jackets and look it Nick Sullivan whose whose the editor in chief at the time Grainger David David David grange just like talk shop and like this is amazing. This is legendary and that made me really WANNA stick with it yeah very recall okay so internship at esquire. How then does that lead you to be a so after that? I was convinced that I wanted to stay in publishing. Look fashion. menswear ended up at Nylon guys Juku for a little bit complex four pins so I was very very much in that circuit as an intern just doing minimal intern work but after a couple of years I was just like this is not really what's my angle here. I don't WANNA be stylus. I don't WanNa be a fashion writer. The idea of being a photographer and fashion was just you know. I didn't even sit down. That's not going to happen so after this is my third yes approaching my third year of college. I A Internet a bunch of or apply uh-huh bunch of other internships again. Nobody got back to me. Despite actually this I'm being off and having a lot of magazines in Monroe oster I applied to like yeah a a couple of mags won't be noted but they're they're. They're okay. They just get back. I mean I saw a posting for bone apetite photo internship and I was like I know nothing nothing about food. I like pictures. I took photo classes in high school and college. So how active a photographer were you at this point. It's like I'm not active. I don't know I took a lot of fissures in high school. I had my own flicker account. I you were you were you were definitely interested. We're sitting at least and I took pictures of the school paper and stuff like that. I I was a you know an avid hobbyist as major so do you did you come in an interview like what God you the job ultimately so I went in again. It's always like a last minute. Call in showed up from Boston and I met with Jake. Ramoser are former photo assistant and he he gave me a talk. Hey so turn yeah. It looks like you've worked a lot of magazines. you have zero photo experience and you have zero food experience so you're pretty underqualified but honestly the only person here that's interviewed. That's worked at large publications so we're GonNa go with you. So that was basically it was it was Bazeley. Hey you're you've worked at reputable places so we'll hire yeah. I do think that's interesting interesting career wise like over the years. I've worked at James Beard Foundation in Time Out New York and the food's severe than G. Q. Got more fashion thing that came back to food. I was a sports writer in college like it is you can move around and I think one thing that editors employers look for is that you do have experience in in a particular field and that you know how to get stuff done that you know under you understand what the industry requires but within that sort of industry you can shoot food. You can shoot you know people. You can do all these things. You don't have to be in one lane. One hundred percent I think at the time I was taking some classes and I was also I was studying NPR print journalism at the time and I remember talking about that with Jake and he was like Oh. This is a plus because you kind of understand writing thing and photography on some level so we'll run with this so he didn't internship summer internship a year or so later. We ended up hiring you as a foot assistant no so I did this summer internship and I was like this is way better than working fashion. Everyone's so much nicer yeah yeah. It was a great time and I was like in order for me to WANNA stay in this world I can see I need to shift from fashion to food media so then I went back to Boston awesome for my senior year and as as I left Alex pollock the photodetectors times like hey we love your great. Just reach out when you're when you're graduating we can like. Maybe you keep you keep you happy. Come back so I would always send emails and I say hey just graduated like three months three or four months. I would love to come talk about a photo editor assistant role. Did you in the interim year. Were you working on shooting things. Decrease your portfolio to share with Alex to say hey I just want. I've been shooting a lot. Take a look at my stuff. Yes so thankfully because of my time I she went over to Boston magazine for my senior of college and I ended up being digital intern which basically means I was just doing every anything and everything for the website correct the king yeah yeah I remember being so proud and like twenty years old on my I've got years of intern experience. I haven't been paid for any of them but you we know I've seen some stuff like that really was my my pride enjoy worked a lot of places and they harden managed digital intern and they also gave me bill do photo take pictures and do have my own bylines socially once a lot of times when you get your foot in the door somewhere are the the brand or the magazine wherever they need people to do stuff go. You can go okay but we'll trust you. There's something trustworthy about you. Then people are all right. Go give this a shot. You'd have a DVD will keep doing it. I must really thankful that it was a web internship versus print because obviously no one's GonNa give any Interna print byline whereas it's much lower risk to teachers hey make something for lab and if it's really good we'll Polish and if not we won't publish in no one will ever or care about low budget so it was just gave me a lot more freedom and they knew that I worked at the food magazine before okay so you know how to take pictures of food. You were photo intern turn. I'm like yeah I guess I mean I. I saw Marcus Nelson. Do you like an overhead shot of something by a window so I can do that. How hard can it be yeah so I mean I I? I did it and they would. It was really cool. I mean they sent me there. Okay so we'll just have you do restaurants so they would send me like once a week in shoot for four restaurants a week and just shoot it for their website so who was giving you guidance about photos style at that point what kind of shots they wanted from the restaurants. It's nobody else really. They just assumed you knew what you were doing. The funny thing is I applied to Boston magazine to be a photo inter. I WANNA continue that path that track of being working for requirements it's but they they didn't want but then the digital department got back to me. I didn't really have communication with the magazine so it was just kind of me and our digital editor who just send me. I was like Oh this. Let's get this close enough to bone advocate and some overhead shots off light and like keep doing this and I would just bike around Boston Jason and go to a bunch of restaurants that are digital restaurant editor Chris Hughes covered and yeah it was it was really good training. It's really good training. I looking back it was really great just being able to go in and practice and shoot restaurants for relatively low risk and have that be an internship set eh great base so then I shot all these restaurants and as shooting what's in all this stuff to Alex pollick. I'm like hey portfolio.