As part of Photojournalism Links’s relaunch, we’re introducing new and regular columns, with the goal of exploring further the inner-workings of the photojournalism community. One such column is dedicated to Photo Editors. Far from being a Hall of Fame-type of chronicle, it’s a way for us to introduce photo editors that are using photography in intelligent and creative ways. We’re also mindful that a lot of our readers are students and emerging photographers, who might not always know how photo editors work and how, and when, they can be approached. Hopefully, this column will help them, while informing others about the work of particular photo editors.
This month, we’re starting with Emma Bowkett, the photo editor for the Financial Times Weekend Magazine.
Photojournalism Links: How did you get started in photography? How did you end up being a photo editor for Financial Times?
Emma Bowkett: Graduating from Goldsmiths College in 2005 with an MA in Image and Communication, I took an internship at the Victoria & Albert Museum, archiving prints for their Word and Image department. Then I worked for two years as first assistant to an advertising photographer, before teaching on the degree course at Goldsmiths. This was a term-time position, so I started freelance picture editing at the Financial Times. I developed a good working relationship with the art director on the FT Weekend Magazine. She kept asking me back.
Photojournalism Links: How do you use photography for the FT Weekend Magazine?
Emma Bowkett: We re-launched the magazine in 2010 with greater emphasis on photography. Most of the photography in the magazine is commissioned. We are a weekly publication with a short lead-time. Stories are often timed to events and news stories, so we are able to commission photographers to work on assignments, as well as publishing photo essays, previews of photo exhibitions and books. I work closely with the AD’s, photographers and agents to produce concepts. Ideas are pitched to my editor, and usually run over six or eight pages. We are encouraged to be ambitious with both images and design.
Photojournalism Links: What are you looking for in the photographers that you use? What attracts you to a certain photographer over another?
Emma Bowkett: I’m looking for photographers with a sense of authorship to their work. I see a lot of folios, sometimes there’s just a special something that attracts me.
Photojournalism Links: Do you mostly use to local photographers for international assignments? Are there cases, when you would send someone abroad?
Emma Bowkett: Much of the photography I commission is international. I usually work with photographers on the ground. That said, there are circumstances where we fly someone in, if we are looking for a specific style [we’ll] use a specific photographer.
Photojournalism Links: How do you discover new photographers?
Emma Bowkett: Galleries, social media sites, magazines, blogs, agents, recommendations. I try to see two photographers’ books a week because I like talking to photographers about their personal projects face to face when I can. Attending private views, talks, and events are a good way to meet new photographers and build relationships.
Photojournalism Links: Are there one or several photographers that have impressed you in the past year? And why?
Emma Bowkett: I am continually impressed by photography. There are several photographers I could mention; many are regular contributors to the magazine. I’d like to mention Stan Douglas, who I recently discovered, and is this year’s recipient of ICP’s Infinity Award for Art. He recently exhibited in London and in New York. We ran his series, Midcentury Studio, in the magazine. I was lucky enough to see both shows. I’m interested in his concept of taking on the identity of a photojournalist, constructing scenes and narratives, challenging fact and fiction. I really love his work.
Photojournalism Links: What is the last photo book that you’ve bought?
Emma Bowkett: I have just bought WassinkLundgren’s Empty Bottles and Carleton Watkins: The Complete Mammoth Photographs.
Photojournalism Links: If you could hire any photographer, who would it be?
Emma Bowkett: I was just in contact with Sølve Sundsbø’s agent about a possible cover shoot. It didn’t work out, but I’d still like to work with him. I have a wish list of photographers. The best thing about my job is working with photographers I admire.
Photojournalism Links: What are your hobbies outside of photography?
Emma Bowkett: I go to the movies as much as I can. I cycle and go the gym.
Photojournalism Links: How can photographers reach you?
Emma Bowkett: Email, Twitter or Facebook. The same way I find them.