In the January 2015 issue of Arizona Highways, readers will be treated to an eight-page portfolio showcasing the images of Eirini Pajak. It’s her first portfolio in that prestigious venue, and it represents a significant milestone in her career as a freelance photographer. Eirini kindly wrote to tell me about the publication so we could share the celebration.
News of her success reminded me of the first time she contacted me, at least five years ago. She was just starting out and wanted advice on how to approach potential clients. She had approached several other editors and photographers, but nobody had time to answer her neophyte questions.
In my role as associate editor at Arizona Wildlife Views, I decided to make the time. We talked about how to approach potential clients. She listened to my advice and took it for what it was worth. In the next few years, she would send me a selection of recent work, and I would tell her which images I liked best, and why. Eventually, we published some of her photos in Views.
When Eirini wrote to thank me for encouraging and supporting her work, I felt immensely gratified. I have always been a writer, and seeing my own creative work published is an immense source of pride. But over time, the rewards of being an editor have come to mean quite a lot to me. To coach creative people like Eirini and help them usher their work into the wider world is a privilege. I’m really pleased to have played a small role in her success.
Coincidentally, the current issue of another prestigious publication is also showcasing the work of someone I’ve had the privilege of coaching. Volume 39, Issue 7 of Gray’s Sporting Journal includes “Hunting Jack’s Rabbits,” by Johnathan O’Dell.
A biologist at the Arizona Game and Fish Department, Johnathan is driven to communicate about wildlife. To that end, he has devoted himself to developing his writing skills. He created the “Fare Afield” department of our magazine to spread the word about wild-caught foods. He’s also written several features for Views.
Johnathan works hard to polish his writing skills. He looks at every change I suggest on his articles, not so he can argue, but so he can learn. In the past few years, his grammar has improved, with no sacrifice in his creativity or style.
I described Johnathan as “driven,” and driven people dream big. Johnathan has always wanted to be published in a national magazine. He sends me drafts of articles to read in my off time, and I point out what works for me and where I see potential for improvement. His diligent rewrites have paid off; as with Eirini’s portfolio in Highways, Johnathan’s publication in Gray’s represents the achievement of a significant personal and professional goal.
I hope it’s clear that this post is not about my success as an editor. I try to be good at my job, but editing is a helping profession. I feel very honored that these two creative professionals asked for my attention to their work. That they feel they’ve gained something from that attention leaves me feeling humble, and grateful for the opportunity.