Interview With An Agent

I asked my friend Aeli Park, a photo agent at theCollectiveShift, to fill out a Q&A about the photo industry.  Her agency represents prestigious photographers such as Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Inez and Vinoodh, and Clang.

1. Your Name: Aeli Park

2. Your occupation: Agent

3. How did you get you into the biz? I first started out interning at W Magazine when I was 19.  During that summer I also was curious about going to a real fashion show and figured the only way I could go was to work at one.  I called up Calvin Klein/KCD to see if they needed an intern and serendipitously they hired me for the 1st season and from then on I worked on all the Calvin shows for the next 2 years.

4. What do you love most about what you do? Watching ideas come to life and then realizing what works better in our heads versus in real time/life.

5. What do you hate? That money and politics can get in the way of creative endeavors.

6.  What would you tell aspiring photographers who want to be the next Annie, Steven, etc.? Good luck!

7. The biggest misconception of the photo industry…It’s a generic answer but always so true. The glamour is such a false idea that many people have.  Anything can seem glamourous – you just need a good video editor, throw in a few smiley people in the background, add a hyped up soundtrack and get it aired somewhere.

8. What’s the most outrageous experience you had on a photo shoot – at least that you could tell us.  A legendary photographer sitting on a toilet seat – holding my hand – crying and apologizing to me and then asking for my forgiveness.

9. Fave non-working photogs? Irving Penn, Helmut Newton, Guy Bourdain, David Hamilton.

10. Are you finding that photogs are getting more into video? Yes absolutely.  More content please.

11. Your best decision Letting go of my producer position to become an agent. Going to theCollective Shift.  My best decisions have always been the ones that require risks.  Knocking on wood now that this formula keeps working for me.  😉

12. Your worst decision N/A

13.  How do you deal with crazy ego-driven artists? I’m sure you’ve had some – can you give example. I don’t.  Truth be told I have not dealt with crazy ego maniac artists.  We all have egos to a certain degree – its healthy and normal.  Maybe its my vibe but the artists I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with have all been absolutely genuine and down to earth – real people with real problems with just enough superficiality to at least entertain you.

14. Difference between fine art photographers vs commercial photographers? That difference is blurry every day.

15.  Can you tell us something about working with PL? PL is the most quick witted person I have ever met.  Every time I talk to him I learn something whether its about life, people or art.  And unlike most ‘artists’ he sees himself quite clearly.  His intentions are very pure and honest.  I admire that.

16. You have a great rep as a producer – do you ever miss it? Haha!
I do?  ha!  I don’t miss it at all. Having anxiety about catering is the last thing I want waking me up in the middle of the night.  As an agent though – there is still a level of production that I still need to be involved in – you can never really get away from it.  But I am happy the entire weight of the production (cube trucks and all aren’t on my shoulders anymore).

17. What I love about working in this industry is that it’s not like a typical 9 to 5, corporate America, kinda industry, and also being able to bring my dogs to work is a plus as you know.  But, it is also is pretty intense and stressful – how do you create balance in your life?
Having a personal life is important.  For me – being bicoastal helps me get balance. Being with my family is a reality check as it really makes me see my priorities in life and reminds me of what is most important to me. You won’t be able to find balance without knowing the foundation of who you are and family provides that in many ways.