Interview with Mark Heflin, Director of the American Illustration – American Photography


We had a chat with Mark Heflin, the director of American Illustration – American Photography (AI-AP), who is currently hosting a competition for Latin America-based Illustrators and Photographers. Read the interview below to find out more about the association and their competitions.

Geralyn Shukwit – O Tempo Não Para

Production Paradise: Can you tell us about American Photography and what you do?

Mark Heflin: American Photography, established in 1985, presents the best images in hardcover by established and emerging photographers selected by an outstanding jury from thousands of entries. The collection, gathered from books, magazines, promotional and personal portfolios, offers an informed view of photography today, with images that resonate through their clearly individual point of view. American Photography is a time capsule in the making and offers a who’s who in photography, with images by Luc Delahaye, Lee Friedlander, Nan Goldin, Jean Paul Goude, Lauren Greenfield, Brigitte Lacombe, Vincent Laforet, Annie Leibovitz, Martin Parr, Paolo Pellegrin, Spencer Platt, Martin Schoeller, and Stephanie Sinclair, to name a few. Work by today’s masters is interspersed with pictures by students and emerging photographers just beginning to make a name for themselves.

The acclaimed AI-AP books, objects of beauty and debate, published annually in November, are the first and foremost go-to resources for art directors, designers, photo editors and art buyers who insist on assigning only the best original, thoughtful and compelling pictures.

As director of AI-AP, I am in charge of managing all things involved in the two competitions and producing the hardcover books, including administrative, marketing, jury selection, curatorial, design, production, distribution and event planning, along with our Latin American and Int’l Motion Art Award shows.

Fran Antmann – Maya Healers: A Thousand Dreams

Production Paradise: How large is your community? 

Mark Heflin: The American Photography community is made up of over 30,000 subscribers who participate in our annual competitions, engage with us on social media, receive the books and our newsletters Pro Photo Daily, Motion Arts Pro and Dispatches from Latin America.

Production Paradise: You specifically have a Latin American Photography competition which is in its 8th year. Can you tell us a bit about how the awards came about? 

Mark Heflin: The Latin American Fotografía and Ilustración (LAF and LAI) shows were created as a natural extension to our established AI-AP shows in a cultural exchange of art and ideas with Latin American artists living anywhere, artists of any nationality working with Latin American clients, and those working with Latin American subject matter. Our ongoing goal to introduce Latin American artists to North American creatives and art buyers, and vice versa.

Nastassia Kantorowicz Torres – Point d’eau

Production Paradise: Why the regional focus?

Mark Heflin: We realised that many great artists were working in Latin America who were not eligible to participate in our AI-AP competitions based on the requirement that they live or work in North America. We also knew that creatives who assign photography and illustration were eager to see new work and meet new artists. In a small way, it was our way of opening the borders of creativity and letting the world share in the beauty that was being created by our neighbors to the south.

Production Paradise: What categories are covered in the Latin competition? 

Mark Heflin: Our Latin American competitions allow all commercial work, including editorial, books, advertising, promotional, posters, also with categories for unpublished, personal, fine art, and student work.

Eleonore Simon – Valparaíso Adrift

Production Paradise: Can you tell us about some past winners?

Mark Heflin: Since our first year starting in 2012, the winners in the Latin Fotografía show have represented all disciplines of photography from all countries in South and Central America and the Caribbean, along with artists in Spain and Portugal. We have also presented artists from Europe and China who work with clients in Latin America. The roster over the years has included, to name a few: Ana Adarve, Colombia; Patricia Akerman, Argentina; Kike Arnal, Venezuela; Nik Ballon, UK; Anja Bruehling, Germany; Giles Clarke, USA; Juan Cristobal Cobo, Colombia; Livia Corona, Mexico; Eduardo del Burgo, Argentina; Juan De la Cruz, Mexico; Brunel Galhego Ricci, Brazil; Orestes Gonzalez, Cuba; Roberto (Bear) Guerra, Ecuador; Constanza H. Hevia, Chile; Ed Kashi, USA; Armando Mazariegos, Guatemala; Giorgio Negro, Italy; Jaime Permuth, Guatemala; Gabriel Rinaldi, Brazil.

The winning collections can be found online by volume at in The Archive and include photographer’s contact information with captions and creative credits.

Patrick Curtet – The 25th Frame

Production Paradise: When is the deadline for the Latin competition?

Mark Heflin: The extended entry deadline for this year’s Latin Fotografía and Ilustración 8 Call For Entries is 6th of August. Winners will be notified in September and presented in New York City at our annual launch event for the new American Photography 35 and American Illustration 38 books as well as at a Projections event where they will have the chance to present their work to other photographers and creatives.

Production Paradise: You also publish Pro Photo Daily. Can you tell us what Pro Photo Daily does and how it interacts with AP?

Mark Heflin: Pro Photo Daily is a daily newsletter, started in 2012, aggregating news of interest to professional photographers from across the internet, covering fine-art, commercial photography, photojournalism, photography contests, media news, and technology news. In addition, Pro Photo Daily spotlights the work of photographers from around the world whose work is appearing in exhibitions and books. The newsletter also profiles winners of the American Photography and Latin American Fotografía competitions. It is edited by David Schonauer and published by Jeffrey Roberts, both alumni from photography publishing including American PHOTO. You can get your own copy of Pro Photo Daily for free here.

Dennis Zelaya – Cymbals


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