In just a few years, Jessica Pettway has gone from SVA photo student shooting props from Canal Plastics to being commissioned by Time, VICE, The New York Times and Bloomberg Businessweek.
Her bold creativity and attention to the humorous and absurd – for example, a slice of pizza riding a roller skate shot for Topic Stories or a diamond bedazzled watermelon – entices brands and editors to hire her, and has landed her acclaimed awards including the PDN 30, Authority Collective’s Lit List, and Adobe’s 20 Creatives to Watch.
Luupe photographer Mikayla Whitmore speaks with Pettway about her favorite assignments, creative challenges, grilled cheese and how to get your work taken seriously and professionally as an emerging photographer.
When Martha Cooper quit her job as a New York Post staff photographer to photograph graffiti full time, she did what all true believers must do: she sacrificed financial stability, status, and recognition from the establishment. All to pursue a passion rooted in the love and understanding for that which is universal and transcendent. When her first book, Subway Art (Henry Holt, 1984), co-authored with Henry Chalfant tanked upon release, Cooper was disappointed to discover her gamble did not pay off.
“I was shooting up until Subway Art got published, and I imagined it was going to be — maybe not a bestseller, but I did think there would be more of a reaction, but there was virtually no reaction,” Cooper says. “The trains kind of died off right then. They had cracked down right at that moment. Maybe it had to do with the book? I didn’t think so then.”
Born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, photographer Mikayla Whitmore makes images of the desert oasis far from the Hollywood clichés you might expect. Beyond the glitz and glimmer, she focuses on the less-covered terrain. In her personal work, the desert is a backdrop for science fiction fantasies, often incorporating mirrors, double exposures and the mystical qualities of light.
Meanwhile, her editorial and commercial photography, with clients including ESPN, VICE, and Buzzfeed News covers everything from local “pro taco, anti-Trump” rallies to the loyal, dedicated fans of the ice hockey team The Las Vegas Golden Knights.
Exhibition and book review by Miss Rosen for The Luupe
The most famous images of war are largely shot by men: images of stoicism, heroicism, drama, and tragedy often focusing on the male participants. Over the past century, while women war photographers have slowly made their mark, they have not been outwardly recognized for their efforts until now.
In 2008 the photography “blogosphere” (a term barely anyone still uses!) was a fraction of what it is today. The (sadly) now-defunct New York Times Lens Blog was just starting out, Slate’s influential (and also, sadly, now defunct) Behold blog wouldn’t exist for another 4 years, and the high-traffic PetaPixel was barely a whisper. There were a handful of highly active art-photography blogs and platforms like I Heart Photograph, FlakPhoto, Humble, and Tiny Vices, but most focused on quick roundups or digital exhibitions. Long-form stories, interviews and thought pieces specifically geared toward getting photographers in front of creative directors and photo editors was still something to be seen. And Instagram, which has become a go-to for hiring new talent, was barely an idea.
Photo editor Alison Zavos saw an opportunity. Frustrated with the lack of a central platform for photo editors to share content that moved them, she started Feature Shoot – a simple photography blog filled with interviews and comprehensive stories about photographers she thought the world needed to know and hire. Still active, highly-trafficked and sought after by many of today’s top editors, curators, and art directors, Feature Shoot continues to be a go-to source for inspiration, helping many photographers launch their careers.
We spoke with Zavos about her inspiring path. We’ve included screenshots of some recent stories that moved us – we encourage you to explore and dive deep.
Felicia Perretti is one of our favorite food photographers because her style is un-boxable. Working with clients ranging from local restaurants to big brands like Kelloggs, Reyka Vodka, and Aramark – and publications like The New York Times, Boston Globe and Wine and Spirit Magazine, she can be a visual chameleon while sparking her voice into everything she shoots. Golden-lit, cheese-soaked biscuits in one frame, cool Irving Penn-inspired frozen foods in the next, her ability to innovate and balance natural and studio light is wizardly effortless.
When she’s not shooting for others, she’s deep in personal projects that highlight her imagination and conceptual depth. One of our favorites is Munchies, a psychedelic hued series of ramen, nachos, french fries and other comfort foods paired with marijuana iconography.
And if her photographic chops don’t sell you on her sharp style, spotting her wearing a “Bye, Felicia” shirt will make you want to hire her immediately. The Luupe spoke with Perretti to learn more about what got her started and how she’s grown her inspiring career.
Annie Tritt makes photographs you can feel. Deeply. In your heart, in your gut, joints, and soul. A portrait of Forrest Whitaker captures him mid-thought, caught off guard, a gateway to a complex inner monologue. Playwright Jackie Sibblies Drury faces the camera with eyes closed and a similar reveal. In everything Annie shoots, there is a sometimes playful, sometimes contemplative vulnerability.
Whether it’s photographing trans youth for personal project Transcending Self, candidly capturing Neil Patrick Harris and David Burka spending time with their children, or adding empathetic energy to portraits of CEOs, Tritt helps viewers care about the people in front of their lens.
Vice Photo editor and Luupe photographer Elizabeth Renstrom spoke with Annie to learn more.
Elizabeth Renstrom isn’t afraid to make photography weird. She encourages it. The photographer, Vice Magazine photo editor, and Luupe member blurs the lines of personal, commercial and editorial photography in her own practice and in the photographers she hires. From Instagram-commissioned photos referencing her early adolescence in the late 90s, to punchy portraits of celebrities and public figures like Jeff Goldblum, Cynthia Nixon and even Grumpy Cat (RIP), Renstrom’s eye and creative direction continues to surprise and delight.
Luupe photographer Pauline Magnenat spoke with Renstrom about her consistently fresh approach.
Pauline Magnenat continuously balances editorial assignments, personal work, creative direction and championing the work of up and coming photographers. When she’s not photographing fashion and editorial stories for The Cut or producing her own thoughtfully subdued portraits and landscapes, the Paris-based artist edits and publishes Rocket Science Magazine showcasing some of today’s most exciting contemporary photography.
On the heels of the magazine’s latest issue fellow Luupe photographer Penny De Los Santos spoke with Magnenat to learn more about what’s inspired her many-angled practice.
Photobook culture is surging more than ever before. Perhaps it’s an attempt to hold in our hands and make permanent something that social media and online content have made so fleeting. A means of escaping the algorithms and digital noise that vie for our attention, and instead, spend time with photographs as physical objects. We compiled seven of our favorite women-made photobooks published over the past few years that made a lasting impact on how we see the world. Whether it’s illuminating the stories of those less represented, humorously illustrating the absurdity of outdated laws or looking at the landscape with a wildly unexpected lens as a metaphor for the immigration crisis, these books will help you pause for a new perspective. We’re featuring a new book each week on our Instagram – join us there if you like what you see.
Penny De Los Santos uses photography to understand culture and identity; from her own – born in Europe to a US military family with later ties to the Texas-Mexico border – to people all over the world. She has traveled to over 30 countries on assignment for magazines including National Geographic, Time and Bon Appetit, with an ongoing focus on how food can be a source of conversation, storytelling, and a bridge to unite people across different cultures.
De Los Santos was one of the first photographers we contacted to join The Luupe and we’re thrilled to collaborate with her. To kick off the inaugural #InTheLuupe conversation, The Luupe founder Keren Sachs spoke with Penny to learn more about her photographic roots and what’s moved her inspiring career.