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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Peter Langone - Doing It All

For more than two decades, using bright, vivid imagery, commercial photographer Peter Langone has forged a multitalented, multi-avenue career built on an unrestrained tenacity to follow his own dreams

A Distinctive Appearance
Langone considers himself primarily a commercial photographer, and though his style may shift by topic (consider his ultra-high-contrast, black-and-white nude work, for instance), in the professional arena he’s known for an absolutely intense use of color.

“People call it hyper-real,” he says. “It’s a real look, but it’s kind of hyper in the sense that I intentionally—whether I’m shooting digitally or with film—intensify the colors. I used to do it in-camera. When I shoot digital, I do it the same way. I feel that if it looks like a real image and it doesn’t look fake, it can jump off the page because of the way the composition and the color is. That’s what I’m about. That’s how I like it, and that’s how I see, actually. That’s my world.”

As for the key to Langone’s style, ironically, there is no key. “You shouldn’t really copy anyone,” he says. “You can be inspired by people as I have, but you should only ever look at your own way of doing it, and what happens is you become very comfortable because you’re doing it the way that you think it should be done. As time goes by, the clients that you’re working with are seeing your style, and you’re working with them as a team player, but you basically get the client to look at you because you’re showing who you are and what you think. To be yourself in the business is the way people succeed in any field.”

Despite the cost, Langone still considers digital to be a big advantage. While there’s a lot more time spent on post, the clear advantage is that it’s immediate. Langone also has an in-house digital tech to help with the workflow, allowing him to be able to work on a variety of projects at once. So while Langone is shooting the job that has been booked for that day, the tech is finishing the job prior, which then can be shipped out to the client, sometimes packaged with fun extras like behind-the-scenes snippets to keep them enthused on the “Langone experience.” In the meantime, preproduction is being started for any upcoming jobs. For all involved with Langone, it’s a busy day every day.

The Transition
“I was 15 when I started in New York,” says Langone about what first led him into photography. “This friend of mine and I needed to borrow money to go to the movies, and we went to his dad’s photo studio in Manhattan. There was cool music playing, and there was a lot of action happening. We go around behind the receptionist’s desk, and there’s his dad wearing a T-shirt with a camera in his hand and a flash going on and off, and this beautiful, beautiful girl in lingerie. I’m 15 years old, and I had never been with a woman at that time, and I’m looking at my friend, and I said, ‘Why the hell are we going to the movies, man? Let’s stay here, this is better.’ So the next day I went back to his dad’s studio, and said, ‘Do you remember me? I was here yesterday. I want to be a photographer. I want to do what you do. You’re getting paid to do this. I want to do this.’

“I really wouldn’t want to do anything else except what I’m doing,” continues Langone. “I believe in my career, and I never ever wanted to question whether I would succeed. So that was never an issue, but what happened is, throughout my career, I went into different aspects of it. At one point, someone said to me, ‘What would you like to do?’ I said I’d like to travel all around the world, make pictures and bring them back to people. They said, ‘Well, that’s never going to happen.’ Well, that did happen!”

Managing It All
While Peter Langone is involved in every aspect of his business, his manager, Beth M. Greger (www.bethmgreger.com), helps to balance the sheer amount of workload from such a busy studio. Besides running a lot of the administrative functions, Greger uses the little free time she has to maintain healthy relationships with clients and to aggressively pursue possible future work. She’s heavily reliant on the Internet and its capabilities, using e-mail marketing consistently with media blasts and personalized e-mails at least once a month. These mailings show people new work from Langone, driving traffic to their website, and often increasing their contacts by up to 1,000 new names annually.

Langone’s Gear
Hasselblad H1 system
Phase One P 25 digital back
Canon EOS-1D Mark II
Profoto lighting equipment

Once a month, Greger sends out postcards, effective hard-marketing material that agents and buyers are able to bring along with them to other agencies, as there’s a lot of turnaround between clients and their firms. Greger also embraces developments in the new market, and they have started working with a social marketing expert who assists them with search engine optimization and the consumer space, including more lighthearted fare, such as a MySpace profile.

“It’s his show, not mine,” says Greger. “I’m here to contribute and help in any way that I can. We work really closely together, and we have a really strong business relationship. It may be a little bit different of a situation—not every photography studio runs the way that ours does—but we try to provide a lot more for our clients than most photographers.”

To see more of Peter Langone’s photography, visit www.peterlangone.com.


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