FEATURING: Jacqueline Tobin
What do the words "Creative Community" bring to mind for you? How do you feel is the best way to utilize members in a Creative Community?
These words bring to mind a support system that encourages education, networking, business growth and industry friendships that extend beyond just business. I think a good way to utilize members in a Creative Community is to have monthly meetings, group outings, networking sessions, and opportunities where members can contribute to other members' work product. For example, I am always happy to feature photographers i meet at industry junkets on our Wedding of the Week blog, in magazine features, and I even meet potential speakers for our annual trade show, WPPI, when I am participating in networking events (both casual and formal ones). Helping each other evolve and grow the industry we all represent is always a plus.
How did you discover your creativity?
When I was ten years old, my dad started a newsletter called The Tobin Tatler out of our attic. My sisters and I would drop story ideas on slips of paper into a box my dad rigged up and covered in our bright yellow kitchen wallpaper, and then he would choose who would cover what beat based on our suggestions. I would contribute stories and photographs (I had a black-and-white darkroom in the basement) ...pieces like "My Girl Scout Troop's Holiday Visit to Gertz Department Store" and "Why i Like Black and White Photos"... I knew then I wanted to be a writer/editor and work on a magazine. And I always loved taking photographs and seeing them come to life in my darkroom.
Name the biggest challenge you have had in your career to date. How did you solve it?
Taking over a 60+-year-old publication and evolving it into a more modern brand with a narrower focus (wedding and portrait photography) seemed insurmountable at the time (and there were grumblings from our core audience early on), but my team and I took steps to show we weren’t trying to “fix something that wasn’t broke” but rather evolve into a magazine that was more aligned with our trade show and conference, WPPI, and with a photo genre (wedding photography that was not being focused on in our sister pub (PDN). We’ve since added many WPPI speakers as writers who help teach our audience about lighting, business branding and marketing, technique and approach, and much more. We also had a major redesign at the beginning of 2015, headed by Luke Hayman of Pentagram Design (A top design firm in New York City) and in October we won a Folio Ozzie award for Best Redesign in the B-to-B magazine category.
What was your first “Big Break” in your profession?
Right out of college I landed a job at Photo District News by merely answering a random newspaper ad. I was temping as a telemarketer that summer after graduation and knew I had to get serious about my career. I was 23 and stayed at PDN for the next 25 years, making my way up the editorial ladder. My next big break came about five years ago, when my parent company acquired Rangefinder Magazine and my boss, Lauren Wendle, appointed me Executive Editor to an office that operated on the West Coast (L.A.) while I remained on the East Coast (NYC). It was a huge break for me because I knew I always wanted to be the editor of a magazine one day but I never thought I was up to snuff! To have someone believe in me and take a risk on me was the best thing that could ever happen. Lauren saw something in me that I myself did not even see but it’s become a dream come true for me.
What's in your backpack/handbag/tote right now?
Stila Perfectly Poreless Putty Perfector, a roll of Spearmint certs, my iPhone 6 (about to be traded in for a 6s!), a leather-bound journal (which, in full disclosure, has turned into one giant but beautiful looking "To-Do” list), 6 pens, a hair clip, a bottle of Tums Smoothies, a copy of the latest Rangefinder (November's 30 Rising Stars of Wedding Photography issue), a stunning promo mailer from New Zealand photographer Hamish Trounson (met him at the Palm Springs Portfolio Reviews at PhotoPlus Expo in October), a turquoise Post-it pad, my phone charger, 3 sets of iPhone headphones, car keys, a Tide-to-go pen and a blush brush.
Do you have any advice for someone starting out in your creative profession?
Be yourself and follow your passion, no matter who says you suck and should do something else! It sounds cliched but if I had listened to the naysayers early on, I'd probably be working a mindless 9-5 grunt job right now instead of having my dream career as an editor of a top photography magazine. It's something I envisioned early on, from my days of dropping story ideas into that wallpaper-covered box!. In high school, I had a teacher tell me I was a terrible writer and should drop the class, along with my dream of being a published writer (I've since written hundreds of articles that have been published in art and photo magazines over the years, as well as had two photography books published by a photo book imprint at Random House). There were others along the way who tried to sway me towards a different path but today I am the editor-in-chief of Rangefinder Magazine and the author of two published books. Listen to yourself. Only you knows you!
What are some of your favorite places/books/blogs/websites for inspiration?
I hate to admit that beyond Rangefinder's PhotoForward blog, our Wedding of the Week and Photo District News' Photo of the Day I barely have time to look at much else...but I do like to follow what Huffington Post puts up in it's wedding photography section here and there, and I absolutely love Danielle Currier's blog, No Plastic Sleeves (a self-promotion guide for photographers and designers). Oh, and The New York Times' Lens photo-j blog and Alien Smithson's LENSCRATCH. I guess I do look at more than I realized!
What would be your DREAM ASSIGNMENT?
To be commissioned by a publishing company to write a book on all the amazing legendary photographers I've interviewed over the past 30 years—Gordon Parks, Elliott Erwitt, Bruce Davidson, Harry Benson, Mary Ellen Mark, Albert Watson, Arnold Newman, George Tice, Joyce Tenneson, and so on. It would be "My Afternoons with Photography's Greatest Legends" or something to that effect. My anecdotes of each interview would be juxtaposed with just one image of my choosing from each legend that sums up my vision of who they really were/are.
Who are the people that have been instrumental in your success as a creative professional?
My father, Abraham Tobin, who passed away in 2008 right before my first book, Wedding Photography Unveiled, was published; my high School English teacher, Mr. Ouichi; my publisher, Lauren Wendle (who took a chance on me and put me in charge of Rangefinder), and my former PDN boss and current editorial director, Holly Hughes; and one of my former professors, Jane Hardy, who mentored me when I worked on my alma mater's school magazine (I graduated from Cornell in 1985)l. Jane taught me everything about magazine publishing—writing, production, design...the whole shebang!—and without that class I wouldn't be who I am/where I am today!
What would be your last supper?
A sourdough baguette, a block of Toma cheese, a jar of fig jam, some white peaches and a pale ale!
Full Name: Jacqueline Tobin
Profession: Editor-in-Chief, Rangefinder
Industry: Wedding and Portrait Photography
Blog: blog.wppionline.com (PhotoForward blog)
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