Photo by (c) Ben Baker

Marcel Saba is the founder of Redux Pictures, an award winning New York based commercial and editorial agency with photographers located around the world. Redux artists have photographed portraits of world leaders, CEOs, politicians, athletes and celebrities. They have documented everything from social issues to global issues.

Regular Redux editorial clients include; Afar, Politico, Fortune, ESPN, The New York Times Magazine, GQ, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, National Geographic, Stern, Paris Match, New York Magazine, Bloomberg, CNN, Reader’s Digest, Time Magazine, People, Rolling Stone & AARP to name a few.

Marcel has served as both President and board member for the Eugene Smith Foundation. He has also served as a faculty member of the International Center of Photography. Recently, he joined the Space for Arts Advisory Board.

What have been the most meaningful moments from your career?

For me, seeing an assignment well executed by a photographer that you helped get started, or who you represent is always meaningful. Seeing their work appear in a magazine, or in a commercial ad (like on a billboard for example) is always satisfying. It would be a disservice to pick just one moment since we represent so many talented photographers. Each one of their milestones is special.

What are the necessary skills for representing photographers?

You need to be able to negotiate and also have a bit of diplomacy.

It helps to have strong relationships with clients as well as a proven track record. It is essential to understand the range of the photographers that you are representing. Perhaps most importantly, you need to understand the market and the type of work it wants, which is always a moving target. Then you have to choose the photographer that fits the client’s needs, get them work and keep them growing.

Along those lines, what are the needs and challenges of today’s market?

The move from print to digital was especially challenging, but we are embracing it.

The rise of social media, and our ability to keep up with it has also been challenging.

But I take heart.  In a world where practically everyone has a camera, the editorial and commercial markets still want photographers who have an ability to deliver exceptional imagery that enhances their brand.

Why is the photo industry still relevant?

Whether it is print, or online media, people seem to like to read articles that are illustrated with images.  Maybe it goes back to our childhood, when we all preferred “picture books” as opposed to just words. Images play an important part in making written information relatable.  Images help the reader to connect the dots. Because of this, I believe that editorial and commercial clients will continue to rely on well-managed photo agencies and photographers for content.

The Redux Pictures website notes that modern photography and creatives have the power to effect change. How do you believe imagery and photographers can be catalysts for change?

Whether shooting portraits, documenting social issues, a humanitarian crisis, or war, photography has the power to change hearts and minds.  It is relatively easy to ignore something, especially something we have not seen. Once we have been exposed to an issue through the power of photography a tide of awareness follows. Only the awareness of an issue can effect change.  At the very least photography has the power to open up a dialogue that might otherwise not have occurred.

An example I will never forget is an image taken by Nilüfer Demir, the Turkish photographer for the Dogan News Agency.  He took photos of the drowned Syrian refugee boy, Alan Kurdi’s lifeless body washed up along the shore in Greece, half in the sand and half in the water. His sneakers were still on his feet. That image, seen around the world, really got dialogue on the refugee crisis to another level.

On a lighter note, Ben Baker was shooting a portrait of President Obama for Fortune Magazine. He had the entire set up, the lighting, and only five to ten minutes with the president to get a strong defining image. However, the image that stood out actually came from when Ben followed the President to his car. The president thanked him for the photo shoot, and then, donning “cool” sunglasses, did an impromptu finger pointing motion. That image was such a powerful moment even though it wasn’t the structured pose under the pristine lighting.  That moment and that image grabbed our collective attention and helped to define the President.

You are a member of the SfA Advisory Board. Why did you accept the position and what are your hopes goals or objectives as a board member?

I thought it was a very interesting idea and it really intrigued me.  Like it or not, we are all hooked on our electronic devices. Because of this, Space for Arts becomes a great tool to help people find studios.  Rather than cold calling a bunch of individual studios, or even googling one at a time, with SfA you can go to one site, enter the city you are looking for and search for studios.  You can tell immediately if the studio is available and meets your specifications. It is a great tool for agencies, photographers, clients and producers alike. People want things to be easier and faster and that is exactly what SfA delivers.

In the future, I hope to see the company expand to more cities. The photo industry is thriving in locations like Atlanta, Austin, San Francisco and Dallas.  I would love to see more studios listed from those locations. Additionally in the future I would love to see this network expanded to European cities, and to eventually expand globally.

A huge thank you to Marcel Saba for taking the time to share his experiences with Space for Arts.