There has been a change at the top of Image Professionals’ Photographers & Art Department. Avreliane Heinlein is now the first contact person for all matters concerning our photographers. Petra Thierry, the long-time head of the department, has retired after more than 26 years with Image Professionals. We are introducing Avreliane in an interview as she begins her new job.
Congratulations. How do you feel about your new position? Excited?
Avreliane: Thanks a lot! “Excited” is perhaps not the right word. I’d say everything is very “exciting” for me right now. After two and a half years of a great working relationship with Petra, I am now running the Photographers & Art Department on my own. Those are quite big footsteps that I am following in. But, I am very much looking forward to this great and responsible task, and especially to working closely with our photographers.
What does a typical day in the Photographers & Art Department look like?
Avreliane: On one hand, there is our daily business. First thing in the morning I check my e-mails, see what current requests our photographers have for me, and try to find the best solutions as quickly as possible. Depending on which projects are currently in the pipeline, I’m busy planning, researching, and implementing them. Then, I exchange information with other members of our team and together we develop strategies and solutions for these projects. I am the link between photographers and the individual departments at Image Professionals.
What are your other tasks?
Avreliane: Besides answering questions from our regular photographers, I am also responsible for contacting new photographers. Generally, I am always on the lookout for new talent and try to bring fresh, exciting visual artists on board. For these artists, I create a profile in our system to manage their data and access so that they can submit their pictures to us quickly and easily. Contract processing is also one of my tasks. I pay great attention to internal process optimization. Over the years, as everywhere else, certain processes have become bogged down. With a fresh look, I try to question them and find better and faster solutions.
You are talking about visual artists. Is that why it is called the Photographers & Art Department?
Avreliane: Exactly! With the word “Art” in the name of our department, we take the artistic aspect of photography into account. Photographers have very creative minds. They know how to capture a mood and put a person, a room, or even a plate in an exciting setting. As with painting or sculpture, you need a certain talent for this. You can’t learn it just like that. We at Image Professionals always aim to present high-quality pictures in our collections and attach great importance to the creative component. Therefore, I am always happy when I succeed in winning over a particularly great photographer to work for us.
What concrete projects are on your agenda for the near future?
Avreliane: There are a few projects that I would like to get underway in the course of the year. These include new payment options for our photographers to make payments abroad a lot easier. Here we are about to enter the test phase. Another project is our new StockFood posting app, which we are currently working on at full speed. In the future, photographers will be able to apply via the app and will also have the possibility to submit pictures to us easily via smartphone. In general, our goal is to relieve photographers of administrative work, generate significant income for them and thus allow them to concentrate fully on their artistic talent.
Now Image Professionals is the umbrella for a multitude of exciting, independent special picture agencies. Are you the photographers’ contact person for all agencies?
Avreliane: I am the contact person for the brands StockFood, Friedrich Strauss, and seasons.agency. In principle, however, all photographers can use the address firstname.lastname@example.org and submit their inquiries to me. I will then forward them to the appropriate colleagues if necessary. Due to the specific characteristics of our brands living4media, House of Pictures, and lookphotos, there are different contacts for these agencies. I am constantly exchanging with them and learning from their experience.
How did you end up in the Photographers & Art Department at Image Professionals? What was your professional career like?
Avreliane: Visuals have always fascinated me. After graduating from high school, I trained as a make-up artist and then worked in photography, film, and television. At the end of my twenties, I got another chance and started a commercial apprenticeship at Image Professionals. During my apprenticeship I got to know all departments of the company, but from the beginning I was employed in the Photograpers & Art Department. I find the connections between the artistic and the economic side of the company particularly interesting.
Then you are already very experienced in your field of activity due to your vocational training. What was your biggest challenge so far?
Avreliane: Image Professionals is a very dynamic company that is constantly growing and developing. The fact that so many different specialist picture agencies are united under one roof and new ones are constantly being added is indeed a challenge. The great thing is that in Petra Thierry, I had a very experienced colleague at my side. I have benefited immensely from her know-how and decades of expertise. So I learned my trade from the bottom up from her. I am very grateful for her extensive wealth of knowledge and experience, which I now draw on.
And what do you enjoy most about your job?
Avreliane: Definitely, my varied everyday life and the many interesting people I deal with. Not only do I have great and competent colleagues, I especially enjoy close and intensive contact with our photographers. Since Image Professionals is an internationally operating company and we work with about 1,900 photographers worldwide, I get to know people with very different mentalities and extraordinary biographies. It is very inspiring.
Is there one particularly exciting thing about your job?
Avreliane: Yes, I spontaneously think of trend scouting and talent search. In our team, we identify new visual languages that appear as if from nowhere on many shots by different photographers at the same time. At blogger events, too, you constantly discover new trends and young talents. Image Professionals does not only work with professional photographers but also with some very talented bloggers.
Are you also a photographer yourself?
Avreliane: I don’t like standing in front of the camera, but I have always liked to take pictures in private. I am familiar with professional shoots from my time as a make-up artist. Besides our photographers, I work very closely and intensively with my colleague Anna Spiegler from StockFood Studios, the in-house production service of food photos at Image Professionals. I am often involved when exciting photo productions are planned and realized.
Can you tell us something personal about yourself?
Avreliane: I was born in Munich, have Austrian and Caribbean roots, and love my home town. For me, there is no better place to live. Together with my husband and my two children I love to travel to the mountains and Italy. Besides traveling, cooking is definitely one of my greatest passions. With us, something warm comes to the table every evening. I get the inspiration for this while I’m working, after all, I see countless food pictures every day that makes me want more.
What would you like to say to your photographers to start your new job and what would you like to give them for your future collaboration?
Avreliane: We are one of the few remaining image agencies where photographers can exchange ideas and advice personally. This personal contact is especially important to me. So don’t be shy, visit me at the agency! It is nice and enormously helpful to personally get to know the creative person behind the pictures. This is not always possible due to the time difference alone. But in any case, you can be sure that I will always have an ear open for you and look forward to an inspiring collaboration.