Interview with Photo Director David Cooper: where he finds talent, inspiration and more


Meet David Cooper, a photography director and illustrator with over 18 years experience in creative art direction and production of editorial illustration and photography. David was a Kids Category Judge for our Spotlight Awards in 2018 and will be judging the Sports category in 2019 as photo director for Health Magazine. He is well-versed in celebrity cover, beauty, fashion, kids, food and soft-good shoots. From sketching concepts to sourcing photographic talent both domestically and internationally he enjoys every aspect of creating a visual narrative. We talked to David to find out where he gets this inspiration from, what does he look for in photographers and more.

Production Paradise: What does your role as Photo Director entail?

David Cooper: In a nutshell, my role is to collaborate with the art and photo teams to create visually stimulating, on brand imagery that will communicate our stories quickly and effectively while balancing issue budgets.

Left: Parents Magazine, April 2018 – Photo: Anna Wolf, Wardrobe: Courtney Raniszewski, Hair: Bradley Irion, Makeup: Gita Bass, Props: Cecilia Elguero, Child Wrangler: Melanie Sawyer | Right: Parents Latina, Feb/Mar 2018 –  Photo: Melanie Acevedo, Wardrobe: Laura Pritchard, Hair: Mark Anthony, Makeup: Rebecca Alexander, Props: Christina Wressell, Child Wrangler: Melanie Sawyer

Production Paradise: You have ample experience in photography. What is it about kids photography in particular that interests you, and attracted you to work in this field?

David Cooper: I have a three-year-old daughter who I photograph every minute of every day. She’s a wild card. I never know what she’s going to say or do. She informs my ideas at the magazine and the stories in the magazine inform me in certain aspects of raising her. The job goes hand in hand with where I am in my life.

Production Paradise: What imagery are you hoping to see when reviewing submissions?

David Cooper: I’m hoping to see exciting photography that has a point of view – work that tells familiar and relatable stories in unfamiliar thought-provoking ways.

Production Paradise: What platforms do you use to scout new photographic talent?

David Cooper: I, of course, lose myself on Instagram on a daily basis, but I’m also still a traditionalist. I love flipping through magazines to find new talent. I have a few subscriptions and every now and then I take a trip to the newsstand to snag a bundle of independent books as well as some old favorites to keep informed.

Photo: Paul Thorburn, Grooming: Thora, Wardrobe: Annie Caruso, Wrangler: Melanie Sawyer, Set: Helen Quinn

Production Paradise: When you are looking to work with talent what are the qualities you think are absolutely necessary to make a good commercial and/or editorial shooter?

David Cooper: I absolutely love working with photographers that have a strong point of view. Those artists that see the world in an unexpected way that’s unique to their personal voice. I’m interested in seeing how they would handle a story if it were a personal project.

Production Paradise: Highly successful publications such as Parents will hire photographers across the globe in order to ensure they are working with the best team. What benefits do you think Production Paradise and their awards bring to photographers looking to increase their international exposure?

David Cooper: Production Paradise is a vital resource in the industry worldwide, so it makes sense for photographers to use their awards as a platform to increase their international exposure. The awards are literally delivering exceptional work to the eyes of art buyers and producers all over the world.

We thank David for the insights and we look forward to seeing your best photography work in Kids and 12 other professional photography categories!

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