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“Connecting With…. ” Alex Hewitt – Writer Pictures

Name: Alex Hewitt
Agency name: Writer Pictures
Position: Co-owner
Explain Writer Pictures in a sentence?
High quality portraits of Writers, from poets to philosophers via authors and entertainers.
Where are you based?
Edinburgh and London.
How many people in the office?
Two in the office, one in the field and a huge wealth of top quality contributors internationally.
When did you start the agency?
September 2004 when Graham Jepson and I had a conversation that went like this:
Alex: ” I’ve had an idea that I wanted to ask you about ”
Graham ” Hey, me too ”
Alex ” You go first ”
Graham ” No you go first ” …..and it turned out we were talking about exactly the same thing.
What were you doing before that?
Being a Picture Editor and Photographer in Scotland, and I still am.
How may photographers contribute to the agency?
About 30 consistent contributors, 30 more sporadic contributors and 5 major agencies.
How many staff photographers?
Four if we include those of us based in the office. It’s a cliche but we’re a photographic agency for photographers by photographers.
How many images are available as stock through your website?
About 80,000 at present but still growing fast.
Do you just cover authors and writers based in the UK?
No, we specialise in the UK but cover the industy internationally.
Are you looking for older image sets, pre 2004 – time lines and deceased authors and writers?
Yes very much so. We’re always looking for collections big and small and we find that portraits of minor figures sell just as well as the portraits of famous personalities.
Are authors and writers generally happy to be photographed?
Mostly yes, seldom no we try to be upfront and honest about what we do and place ourselves as a resource for all involved.
How long do you typically get on a shoot?
We usually ask for 20-30 mins. Less is difficult more is a blessing.
Mainly studio or improvisation?
Mainly improvised on location but we’d like to do more studio based work.
Have you shot exclusive subjects recently?
Lennoxlove Book Festival in Haddington and the Borders Book Festival in Melrose have an exclusive deal with us and we usually get some nice shots at these events as the writers are always very relaxed.
Most difficult shoot?
I’m not going to name any names but it was at the Borders Book Festival when a writer decided halfway through a shoot that they didn’t actually want to be photographed.
Favourite set of images?
We love every picture in our collection, but especially fond of both Graham Jepson’s shoot with James Ellroy and the Mathieu Bourgois shoot with the very same James Ellroy. He obviously makes a good subject!
Graham Jepson portrait of James Ellroy
Mathieu Bourgois portrait of James Ellroy
Who are you trying to photograph at the moment?
We’ve got a man in New York at the moment who we’re trying to set up some big names for. Philip Roth and Brett Easton Ellis are on the cards.
Do you book most shoots through a PR /agent or directly with the author?
It always varies depending on the author. We get a lot of commissioned work which has been previously arranged via the Publicity teams.
Any advice for a start-up photo agency?
Yes, keep your costs and expectations low and your quality and ideals high.
Writer Pictures exhibited at FotoFringe London May this year.
“Connecting with…. “ is a new series of industry specific interviews sponsored by