Q&A: Jesse Reiter, Photo Editor of Golf Magazine, on Hiring Photographers, and the Changing Industry

August 7, 2017

By Ian Spanier

© Ben Van Hook

© Ben Van Hook

© Brian Henn

© James Westman

Let’s face it—the photography business has changed. It’s no doubt we are in a constant state of adaption to keep up. Many a creative “get-together” becomes less about networking and more about complaining. Truth is, there is still a desire by those in the industry to make great work—and that desire is fueled not only by photographers. Here, I sit down with Jesse Reiter (@jreiterphoto), who has been photo editor at Golf Magazine for the past 6 years, to talk about the challenges of tight budgets with equally tight deadlines, all in an ever-changing industry.

Ian Spanier: What’s the creative process for you? How are ideas formulated and what’s your process as far as finding the photographers you are working with?

JR: One of my favorite parts of my job is collaborating with the talent I booked for any given shoot. I love to start with an idea or a direction and let it develop further in front of the camera. I can only plan so much of a shoot in an office, the rest needs to happen in the moment. However, I do feel it is essential to have a well-designed plan going into every shoot. Most of our ideas start in an editorial meeting where we brainstorm. Then it’s up to me to decide who would be the best photographer for the job. Once that is sorted out, I talk through the ideas with the photographer and we begin to formulate the direction and mood of the shoot. I use this approach for large scale cover shoots all the way down to small product shoots.

IS: Generally speaking, in terms of getting your job done, what are some of the challenges you face today? Feel free to include any examples.

JR: My biggest challenge is making my budget work. I must strike the delicate balance of getting the assets I need for the magazine without over spending.

IS: As far as commissioned photography, how do you find the photographers you work with? What are some of the ways you find new photographers? 

JR: I use a few different methods to find photographers. My favorite way is to meet face to face, whether a photographer comes to my office to show their work, or at an event or through a mutual friend. Meeting with a photo editor in person is a great way to stand out from the mailers and emails that we receive. I also love Instagram. There are so many talented photographers, but it can be tough to find the right fit for a project sometimes. So, Instagram is a terrific way to discover new talent and quickly learn about a photographer’s style. And finally, some photographers have built an impeccable reputation from our work together in the past. Their credentials speak for themselves.

IS: If you could sum it up, how has the business changed in your time working in it, and what would you like to see change going forward?

JR: Wow, that’s a loaded question. Obviously, the print market is shrinking and there is a greater demand for video content. Also, everyone is being asked to do more with less, both photographers and photo editors. As I mentioned, striking a balance is very important in our line of work.

One major change I would like to see in the future is to slow down a bit. What I mean by that is in our digital age, we need our information fast and there is a big emphasis on quantity over quality. I would like to see more of an emphasis on increased quality of both images and of editing. When photographers don’t delve deep enough into their subject matter, it presents a sterile image. Taking the time to edit photos with a sharp focus on the right details is also key. The market is over saturated with “just good enough” photographers who could be great, but lack direction.

Ian Spanier is an award-winning advertising and editorial photographer based in Los Angeles and New York City and a PhotoServe member and contributor. As comfortable as he is in the studio, he can face any challenge presented on location. Ian’s first full book of published work, Playboy, a Guide to Cigars, documents his travels to nearly every country that manufactures cigars and is available at fine cigar shops and at major book stores. His second critically acclaimed book, Local Heroes: Portraits of America’s Volunteer Fire Fighters, is out now in stores and online. You can visit the book’s Tumblr Page here. Spanier is a member of the Lowepro TeamPhotoflex’s Pro Team, and Imagenomic’s featured photographer list. He has been the recipient of numerous awards from such major photo competitions as American Photography, SPD, The International Color Awards, The International Black & White Spider Awards, PDN’s World in Focus, Planet Magazine, and Seeing the Light, to name a few. Finally, he is a regular lecturer for SMUG, as well as for The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. Ian Spanier is available for assignment. Questions or comments, e-mail him at: To see more of Ian Spanier’s latest advertising and personal projects, visit his site at He is represented by Big Leo.