Online and on target–Interview with Adriana Teresa Letorney of Fotovisura
At ONWARD we are always searching for helpful resources and communities for emerging and established photographers. We had the opportunity to talk with Adriana Teresa Letorney, co-founder of Visura.co (formerly known as fotovisura). Visura, started by Adriana and Graham Letorney in 2008, provides a professional global online network for photographers, editors, publishers, and industry players to share work and forge connections. Above image by Carolina Arantes.
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ONWARD: In general, how would you describe the challenges that photographers face early in their careers?
ATL: Today’s photographer faces challenges like limited job opportunities and a dearth of resources. The result of these two obstacles existing together is the growing additional costs to the photographer making it incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to make a living in the profession in which he or she is invested. Simply put—there is scarce return in comparison to the amount of money photographers invest to further their work and career.
ONWARD: What are some common pitfalls that you think can be avoided?
ATL: If you are a photographer, value your time, work and dedication—do not work for free. Respect your colleagues, their work and time, including editors and representatives of organizations that are trying to help you further your work and career. Don’t take them for granted. Keep working but don’t think that one award or even numerous awards will define you— your road to success is to master the craft of photography and to tell a story with honesty, respect and integrity.
ONWARD: How important is it for a photographer to have an online presence in social and professional networks?
ATL: It is extremely important for a photographer to have access to social and professional resources and tools that make connecting, sharing and networking possible. The most important thing, nonetheless, is that the work speaks for itself and is complete. You can have a lot of social media presence and all the right connections but if the work is incomplete, then none of it really matters. It is more fruitful to wait and focus on the work, until you are ready to present.
ONWARD: How did Fotovisura form and with what goals in mind?
ATL: Visura started as a response to hundreds of emails from photographers from all over the world asking us to guide, advise and support them in some way during their journey in becoming professional photographers, editors or even organizations. In January 2015, Visura evolved into a virtual home that provides direction, support, and opportunity to photographers, editors and organizations by offering resources and tools to connect, share, and network. Our goal is to offer cost effective solutions to the challenges that the key players in the industry face today with the hopes that these resources and tools will further their work, mission and career. There is still so much we need to do…
ONWARD: How did your previous experiences in the photo world inform the way you structured the company?
ATL: Graham and I are part of a generation that was left without direction and opportunity when the economy crashed in 2008. We were aspiring photographers and/or editors facing the same challenges as everyone who reached and continues to reach out to us. We both had amazing opportunities to complete internships at major publications or agencies, and we could have continued working for free for others—but with an increasing student debt, demanding living costs from being in New York, and the fact that we did not or could not depend on our parents—the reality was that we needed a job.
The idea that it is acceptable to work for free for more than three months once you are out of school is wrong, extremely elitist, and unrealistic. For this, we will be eternally grateful to powerHouse Arena and powerHouse Books— because during a time of crisis, we were able to find a paid job, where we could also create. Once we both left powerHouse, and even though we applied for jobs every year until 2013 (yes, even after we had started Visura), we found no direction or opportunity. As we realized we were not alone, we made a decision to take matters into our own hands and embarked on a mission to build a new model that we believed in; a model that offers resources and tools to further one’s work and career. That is Visura 2.0—the new global networking platform for photography and media.
ONWARD: Who are the professionals that photographers should be reaching out to in order to further their careers?
ATL: Photographers should reach out to editors, organizations and other photographers—the key players that make up this realm and are committed to furthering this industry. I encourage members to connect with any photographer, editor and organization that signs up to Visura.co. Everyone that is signing up to Visura.co has a serious dedication and focus toward their work, career and mission, and a willingness and belief that in order for the industry to succeed, it cannot be about one person or one institution…We need to come together and move forward as a community with respect and honesty. This industry is being shaken in all directions. This is a time to stand up, join forces and make a difference.
About Adriana Teresa Letorney
Adriana Teresa Letorney (aka Adriana Teresa) is the co-Founder & Creative Director of Visura.co—the global networking platform for photography and media. She has been a guest writer for The New York Times Lens Blog, as well as developed a column titled In Conversation in The Huffington Post.
ONWARD is based in Philadelphia, PA, providing useful resources for photographers of all walks of life–from Grant Writing Tips to Getting Gallery Shows. ONWARD also provides educational opportunities for photographers like the Global Mentorship Program, a year-long course geared towards the completion of a long-term project. Want to get more updates about the photography world? Join the ONWARD community!