Written by Simeon Bennett, CNN
On December 24, Paddle8 co-founder Bird Cormack declared New Year’s Eve as a good time to launch the newly independent luxury real estate platform with celebrity jeweler Neil Barrett and photography legend and writer David Bailey.
A gallerist, I never meant for this to be a bit of a mea culpa to my cohorts — it was like you just walk into the room and you look at each other and you realize it’s actually really interesting to bring two of the most prestigious people from art into the mix of something that’s ever been created. At the time it might’ve seemed a strange approach because it felt almost wrong to have a photograph from (Breit Workman’s) “The Pricking World” on that site. But it was only right. We didn’t always know in advance that they were going to be interested — but when they both expressed an interest, we went with it and we feel that we have collectively achieved what we set out to do. We wanted to create a platform for people to meet their equivalent of cultural elite which is as quickly accessible as it is enriching for them. Paddle8 has become a place for a unique and surprising and people to meet interesting, truly important people in areas of their passion like photography, photography education, art and culture in general.
What do you hope people take away from Breit Workman?
We were really confident at the time of these launches that they would be universally loved, and so far we’re really grateful to the different reviews we’ve received. We were surprised at the response from David Bailey, who is regarded as the grandfather of portrait photography, when his portrait of Paul Simon arrived on our site last week.
So it seems to be resonating with the audience. This survey of social media audiences suggests that virtually all kinds of new faces are reacting to his images. We think the imagery has stayed true to the creative origins of his work, while also updating it to be contemporary.
What are the misconceptions about photography?
We think there’s a misconception that all photography has to have film at its core — that it doesn’t really matter what you use to put your images on your website, it has to be a digital format. There’s a widespread belief that it’s as easy as bringing up Photoshop. The truth is that when you use film you have to set the shutter speed to a specific number. And even shooting on a computer is tough if you’re using stock software.
How does a photographer create a standalone brand?
We’ve also discovered that it’s a strong sell to showcase a photographer’s work. I think one of the main misconceptions about photographers is that they’re all basically self-taught, which is very wrong. Fewer than a third of all photographers today have a photographic studio and most have a computer, so they tend to be able to showcase their images. While a lot of photographers are interested in the technology, they’re also interested in having a gallery space that is actually about selling their work. That’s why it was great to have Behnaz Sarafpour among our group of photographers.
For photographers whose work has been on the market, what benefits come from taking on a side project?
It’s very important for a photographer to maintain their online presence, and Paddle8 was designed to be a place for them to go if they want to sell images through the platform. For other photographers it can mean a stepping stone to being published through different platforms.
What is it like working with other powerful photographers, like Breit Workman?
Everything about his work is about this mixture of a meditation, and a humorous observation of the world, and at the same time he’s got an absolute fascination with the form of his medium. You’re talking about an insanely precise, unique work in so many different ways, so it’s really wonderful to see someone outside the industry appreciate the range of the craft.
But when he brings on a photographer like Ravi Kanojia, who we recently debuted on the site, and an image that is so — what does he call it? — shiny, like glitter, but it’s not a glitter ball it’s just a photograph, it’s a set of photographs, and he’s able to do this purely because of who he is and what he’s done for a living.