Young Photographer Breaks the Rules, Finds Success

The New York Times writes about photographer Ted Selby, who is making a name for himself by profiling “cool” people and their personal spaces on his blog theselby.com.

Despite getting work for magazines like Spin and Dazed & Confused, his success was middling. He wanted to do a more personal project; he just wasn’t sure what.

“Usually professional photographers will have a show at a gallery in Chelsea,” he said, “or a photo book from a small art press. That was the traditional way to do it.”

Instead, he took advice from his friend Mark Hunter, who runs thecobrasnake.com, the wildly successful behind-the-scenes party blog.

“I pride myself on marketing,” Mr. Hunter said, “and knowing how to reach an audience and build a following. What I thought would be great for Todd was to create something people would want to share.”

On the Internet, he told his friend, you don’t have to be as selective as at a magazine. Share 20 images instead of one. Break the rules.

Within two months, the site had become so popular that Mr. Selby made it the center of his professional life.

“This is something photographers haven’t caught up to yet,” he said. “When I started in 2001, it was very clear. You start working for magazines, work your way up to the best magazines, the art buyers and art directors see those great magazines and hire you to shoot an ad campaign. Now it’s a totally different game. People who are making decisions about ad campaigns aren’t looking at magazines for inspiration. They’re looking at the Internet.”

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