“Pontiac’s Rebellion” from the series "Free Radicles", 2011. Photo by Grant Worth, FotoVisura-Member
Adriana Teresa Letorney
“Piece OFF Rights" from the series "Free Radicles", 2011. Photo by Grant Worth, FotoVisura-Member
When you work with people, 40, 60, 80 hours a week you become something of a family, probably because there is no one else you see so much every day of your lives as your coworkers. This is such a strange situation in so many ways, random personalities thrown together for a period in time, eyes on the prize, with one goal in mind: success.
Such as it was to work with Adriana Teresa and Graham Letorney at powerHouse in 2007. It wasn’t that long ago, and yet, it feels like a lifetime has come and gone in just seven years time. Since they first met at powerHouse, Adriana and Graham got married and started their own company, FotoVisura, an independent platform for photographers.
Being a husband and wife team is an intense commitment. Passions and politics and protocol and pragmatism all come into the mix. Where the professional and the personal lines lie is fluid. I have nothing but the utmost respect for couples who can release their egos in favor of something greater than themselves. Adriana and Graham speak with The Click about their life in art, and the risks and rewards of creating an online international self-publishing community and resource for photography that offers annual memberships with access to grants, workshops and a public archive used by industry professionals to find new work and talent. Their mission is to further the work and career of photographers worldwide.
Adriana explains the development of FotoVisura was organic and natural, responding to a demand in the market that was being undeserved. She observes, “Photographers invest in personal websites, which are one in a million, like stars in the sky—in that you really need to know the name of the star in order to know it exists. Photographers are investing $500-$7000 on a website, which is fine but is the return worth the investment?
“Bottom line, Graham and I do not see individual websites as a good business model solution for students, alumni and emerging photographers. If you can afford having one, go for it—but FotoVisura is an alternative solution that is cost-effective and might have much better results because in addition to an online presence, where one can self-publish, promote and share his or her work, the platform provides many of the resources to further the work and career of photographers. This is our mission.
“From the beginning, we knew that having an online presence was not enough if the photographers did not have access to professional working editors and curators in the industry. So, we began adding resources that could attract leading editors and curators to FotoVisura, for example, the FotoVisura Grant, The Summer Editing Workshops at Stowe Mountain Lodge and Photo of the Day. Plus, we have a very exciting feature for editors coming out this fall which will help them find talent and engage on a whole new level.
“In time, leading editors from publications like CNN, New York Times, Time Magazine, The New Yorker, National Geographic, amongst many others worldwide began connecting with FotoVisura, participating, and publishing work found through our platform. Our dream was being realized. More and more photographers were starting to get opportunities through FotoVisura, whether because an FV-member had submitted to the Public Archive and an image had been selected as a Photo of the Day in our home page; or to the FotoVisura Grant and the project had been selected as a Winner, Top Finalist, Finalist or Honorable Mention; or been accepted to one of our summer editing workshops at Stowe Mountain Lodge in Vermont.
“The most important accomplishment for us is to have created an alternative solution that increases the parameters of opportunity in the job market and facilitates the interconnection between editors and curators and students, alumni and emerging photographers.
“The main challenge we face today is being able to meet the demand without sacrificing efficiency and quality. Other than that, we face the same challenges as everyone else does, which include limitations in budget, staff, and production—but that has never stopped us from working around the clock. The risk is more personal: Graham and I have put everything we have and own into building FotoVisura and naturally, we want the model to succeed. We believe in what we are doing. The way I see it is the following: there is no failure in trying to do something greater that oneself. So, one reward is knowing that we didn't stop at pointing out the problems in the industry; instead, we have risked almost everything we have in order to take on the challenge of creating an alternative solution for photographers to further their work and career. The good news is Graham and I are in it for the long haul! We hope to contribute in some positive way to the industry.
“All in all, we would have never been able to accomplish anything without the belief and support of the photography community and the many individuals and companies within and outside of the realm that believe in FotoVisura. In the end, knowing that FotoVisura is truly an international community is our biggest reward. It is no longer about us.”
As a husband and wife team, Adriana and Graham share both personal and professional aspects of your their lives. They speak about how balancing these relationships both challenges and strengthens their bond.
Adriana reveals, “As time passes, we have only gotten better at working together, which means that our home is peaceful. We have learned to grow in the difference with respect and admiration. I know that Graham is a leader and I celebrate his life and accomplishments. We do not compete and with time, we have learned to listen to each other. The more we do, the less we criticize each other for what we do, even when we make mistakes. I love to see him shine.
“Graham is the most hard working, kind, talented, respectful and dedicated husband, father, son and professional individual I have ever met. He reminds me of my grandfathers, my father and my brothers in many ways—who have all been a huge influence in my life, and with whom we are very close. I know his biggest influence is his father, an entrepreneur, whose journey he has quietly observed, admired, learned from and supported. For years, I have witnessed his selfless commitment to his family and their family business, and it has set a huge example in our own personal home.
He believes in family, which is what is most important to me. I trust and respect him. We have been given a chance in life to do something together that is greater than ourselves—thus, like the song in the Killers: ‘I don't shine, if you don't shine. So put your back on me, so put your back on me.’ We have each other’s back. I cherish that both personally and professionally.
“Graham is a visionary when it comes to the development and implementation of strategic online solutions, more so now that he is able to create software and technology. In addition to being a beautiful photographer, he is brilliant in business. His approach is not cut throat or mean. He is genuine and honest, kind and respectful, and I find that to be a gift. He doesn't compete for titles or for recognition. He is selfless in that his mission is to get the job done. In his quiet but secure demeanor, he is able to clear out the noise and focus on what is really important. This kind of vision is key when it comes to accomplishing short and long term goals in business. Graham remains in my eyes, a crouching tiger, hidden dragon.
Graham reveals, “Adriana has a unique balance, she is all love to the core and one of the most giving people I have ever met, and equally she is a force of nature. She possesses powers of communication, strategy, and intelligence that have hurricane force and laser aim. This is because she puts her heart and all of her passion into everything she does. Each email she writes, each business partner she talks with, each photographer she works with is all taken on with these super powers.”
“Fortunately, Adriana and I compliment each other in a very distinct and ever-present way. On the one hand this makes us very opposite—and definitely opposites attract, in this case—but on the other hand it makes a dynamic business team. This also balances me out personally and it keeps me moving in the right direction with focus. Working with Adriana also gives me a window into her warrior side. She has a focus and passion that is a force of nature and this keeps me grounded. She is also wholly focused on a selfless mission, which I find rare and inspiring. Working with her reveals this everyday, something that I am very fond of.”
Speaking about the future of FotoVisura, Adriana observes, “I don't know how far FotoVisura can go. No one person acts alone. So, its future depends on the belief and participation of its components. FotoVisura exists and will remain running its course, as long as the industry believes in its existence. FotoVisura is an experience, and it is unique to every FV-member—which means that as a platform that serves as a tunnel, it is beneficial to those who experience it in its entirety. I say, take advantage of the opportunity. Regarding photography in the digital age—these are my two cents. We are moving towards a content driven digital decade.
“So, photographers: protect your work. Choose carefully where you are going to publish it, when and why. It is ok to wait. It is ok to be selective. It is wise to respect your work. Once it is published, its life spam has an end. So, focus on making it complete, finding the tools and guidance to making it whole—and then, be strategic when it comes to publishing it online. Think long term, and remember—YOU NEED TO MAKE A LIVING. It all starts with you—this industry and how it defines itself and, more importantly, how it continues to redefine itself, also depends on you. So, take your time before you go live.
Graham adds, “Looking at the ideological side of things, I think photography is the mode of communication of choice at our current state of technology. Where a tweet can be measured in characters a photograph can say multitudes more in one beautiful, portable package. We were once in the information age, perhaps we are now advancing culturally to the image age. Yes, there are many concerns and strategies that photographers need to be thinking about, but, all in all, I think photography is gaining unprecedented momentum and finding a new place of meaning in the fabric of communication and culture. However, I cannot say the same thing for the current state of the 'photography industry' - I suppose this unbalance fuels our need to innovate.
“Ultimately, the project's success is due to the quality of the work you find in the self-publishing platform, as well as the leaders that continue to find in FotoVisura an alternative resource to find new work and talent. "
“Soon we will launch FV 2.0, an updated version with new resources for its members and editors. So, stay tuned, and if anyone wants to write to us with ideas, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
with Guest Editor Elizabeth Krist, Senior Photo Editor at National Geographic Magazine. Photo: FotoVisura Inc
Photo by Annie Marie Flanagan, 2014 Vermont FV-Scholarship Recipient
Photo by: Justin Maxon, 2010 FotoVisura Grant Winner
Bay 5 - May 29, 2012. Ocean Parkway, Brooklyn. Photo by Lisa Elmaleh, FV-member
TEHRAN, IRAN - With a photo of Imam Ali, first Shi'a imam hung in the background, Sasan and Pouyan, his partner, hold hand and caress on the couch. Sasan comes from a very religious family who have been very open, accepting him as he is. Homosexuality in Islam is considered to be sin and must be penalized by capital punishment. Photo by Kiana Hayer, FV-member