8 Questions for Emily Keegin, DOP of The FADER
Our Q&A from the Spring 2017 issue with Emily Keegin, photo director of The FADER, the music-lifestyle mag that sets the curve for photography and design.
PDNedu: When did you join The FADER, and what falls under your role as the DOP? How big is the photo team?
Emily Keegin: I joined The FADER in summer 2015. My first issue was FADER 100, with a double cover of Drake and Rihanna.
The photo team is just me. Hi! (Shout out to Frank Seidlitz and Yael Malka, who took the wheel while I was on maternity leave last summer and fall.)
PDNedu: How would you describe the photography the magazine publishes? How has it changed?
EK: In a nutshell, FADER photography is “intimate portraits of famous people.” We mix documentary photography with standard portraiture to give our readers a glimpse into artists’ lives and creative processes. My aesthetic is slightly different than my predecessors—I have a heavier editorial hand—but I am carrying on a long tradition of portrait-driven storytelling.
PDNedu: What are your top three favorite shoots that you’ve directed at The FADER?
EK: Rihanna, photographed by Renata Raksha; Christine & The Queens, photographed by Alice Rosati; Zayn Malik, photographed by Francesco Nazardo.
PDNedu: Has social media impacted the way you direct a shoot? Do you plan for content for Snapchat or Instagram, for instance, in addition to print?
EK: I don’t think about “content” for other platforms because I think it muddies direction and concentration. I let shoots unfold and then work with the resulting art across all platforms. Great photos do well on any medium. The real difference is that now we have more outlets to show photography—which is awesome.
PDNedu: How do you keep a pulse on new photographers? What do you look for in their work or background?
EK: Instagram. Blogs. Word of mouth. Constant web scrolling (scrolling, scrolllllllling forever). I’m looking for creative thinkers who have a unique voice and who find art and quirk in the banality of everyday life.
PDNedu: Is all of the work in the magazine produced by The FADER, or do you publish existing work from photographers? What about online?
EK: All magazine photography and 98 percent of the web is produced by The FADER. I am, however, beginning to pick up existing photo essays for the web, so…pitch me!
PDNedu: If you’ve hired someone who doesn’t have a ton of professional experience, what are some things you do expect from him or her?
EK: I hire people who don’t have a ton of experience all of the time. My expectations are the same for young photographers as they are for seasoned vets. Pre-shoot: Communicate clearly and respond promptly to emails. Be open and responsive to creative direction. On-set: Be present and prepared and don’t lose your artistic voice—I hired you to be you. Post-shoot: Deliver high-quality files (at the correct dimensions) on time. Overall: Don’t be a jerk.
PDNedu: What’s got you excited in music photography? Is there anything you want to cover more of, or a new type of media you want to work with more?
EK: In my graduate work I focused on music’s historic and emotional heft and asked the question, “How do you make music visible?” The answer I came to was that you can’t—at least not easily. Music gets in deep. It shakes you and evokes feelings that photography on it’s own is far too clumsy a tool to render. There is nothing less musical than a still photograph of a dude playing the guitar. At The FADER, despite being a “music magazine,” I try to show everything but the music.
I want to work with old media, paper, scissors, film, tape, paint, glue, glitter, crayon. Art is born out of mess and mistakes. SMASH YOUR COMPUTER! [Ed. note: PDNedu is not responsible for computer damages.]