© 2010 Yvan Rodic
Yvan Rodic, aka FaceHunter, began one of the first street fashion photo blogs in 2006, when he started posting images of fashionable women he encountered at clubs, parties and on the streets of Paris. At the time, he was working as a copywriter for Saatchi & Saatchi.
Now, “face hunting” is a full-time job for Rodic. He travels from one city to the next in search of “eye candy for the style hungry,” as he says on his FaceHunter blog. The blog and his website (www.yvanrodic.com) total about 500,000 page views per month. He has nearly 100,000 Instagram followers, 66,000 Twitter followers and 54,000 Facebook fans. Meanwhile, Thames & Hudson is about to release Rodic’s second book, called A Year in the Life of FaceHunter, featuring his street fashion photography and travel musings from 31 cities. (Thames & Hudson published his first book, FaceHunter, which was republished in the U.S. by Prestel.)
For Rodic, his following is its own marketing: Fashion and beauty clients including Esprit, Giorgio Armani, and Toni&Guy (an international chain of UK-based salons) have hired him to bring his street photography style to their Web campaigns. They’re also hiring him to promote the brands to his many social-media followers.
“My name has been out there for seven years, so I have offers [for assignments] coming up quite regularly,” he says.
Recently, he’s been thinking about signing with a rep in New York City, not so much because he needs marketing help—although he’s anticipating more job offers from which he can pick and choose the most appealing ones—but for the logistical support.
“I’m reaching the point where I don’t want to spend my day negotiating with clients. I want to focus on the creative part,” he says in a telephone interview from Reykjavik, Iceland, where he is attending the Iceland Airwaves festival.
He happens to be there just for the fun of it—and to satisfy the appetite of his followers for ever-fresh images. “I’ve attended this festival quite a few times. I like it. It’s cool. I know this place quite well,” he says. “It’s my two-day personal trip.” In addition to his frequent trips to major cultural centers—Paris, New York City, London—he mixes up his itinerary with trips to smaller, out-of-the way places. “A few weeks ago I was in Armenia. I do a lot of unexpected places: I’ve been to Belarus, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Georgia. The focus is on big cities, but I’ve tried to go beyond that.”
Originally from Switzerland but now based in London, Rodic goes where his ever-expanding network of fashion bloggers, trend spotters and acquaintances lead him. “It all happens organically through people I know, and people I meet. A connection might lead to a collaboration, a project or a job, or maybe just a personal visit,” he says. Those connections guide him to fashion hot spots at each destination. He occasionally hires photo assistants when jobs demand it, and he has set up a production company with a dedicated crew for commercial video assignments (last year, he shot two videos for Giorgio Armani, for instance). But usually he travels and shoots without assistants.
It can be difficult to tell from his blog posts what is personal work, and what is shot for a client. Most clients hire him to shoot in his signature style, then distribute the images on his blog for his own followers, in addition to providing the images to the client for their website.
For instance, his most recent assignment was a campaign for Esprit called “I Love My City.” Rodic traveled to New York City, Amsterdam, Paris and Hong Kong during July and August, spending three days in each city shooting photos and video. “In each city I selected one girl who was showing me around her city. I was documenting the day I was spending with her,” he says.
Esprit had asked Rodic to suggest models for the project from his own network of friends and acquaintances in each city. “They were not famous models, they were more like cool bloggers or pretty girls about town,” he says.
The images appeared on esprit.com, but also on Rodic’s blog and website, he says. “Typically clients want me to post [the pictures] on my own channel—blogs and social media. [For Esprit] I would post part of the campaign on my blog and promote it on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.”Rodic did that by posting teasers on Instagram and Twitter as he was shooting. Later, he used his social-media networks to direct his followers to a full selection of the day’s photos and videos on esprit.com. (Most of his fans follow him on mobile devices now, so the “teaser” strategy, where he posts three or four iPhone pictures on Instagram and then a lot of images on his blogs at the end of the day, is designed to keep the mobile followers engaged.)
Clients sometimes hire him for exclusive use of the images on their own websites. For nine months last year, he had an arrangement with Toni&Guy to provide photographs of people he encountered on the street “with interesting hair and style.” He didn’t post the images that he provided to the client on his own site, except for a few Instagram pictures during London Fashion Week to promote the brand.
Rodic’s assignment work started with editorial jobs in 2006, when GQ hired him to cover street style during New York Fashion Week. In 2008, he shot an assignment for The New York Times, followed by Paris and Milan Fashion Week assignments in 2010 for Italian Vogue, among other editorial clients. For six months in 2010, he contributed a fashion photography column to The Observer in London.
Those assignments, and his growing fan base, led to commercial assignments covering events all over the world for Lacoste, Absolut vodka, American Apparel, Volvo and other brands. Rodic no longer does much editorial work. “They forget that on the streets you are dependent on the seasons and conditions,” he says. “They expect you to shoot something summer-y when it’s still cold. It was complicated for not so much money. I’d rather keep most of my photos for my own channels and somehow monetize it on proper clients—commercial projects,” he says.
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