PYSK: CAIT OPPERMANN
former, she looked at other people’s work.
One of her favorite pastimes is flipping
through magazines at McNally Jackson,
an indie bookstore in Manhattan’s Nolita
neighborhood, just to see who’s shooting
what. In doing that, she got to know the
visual personalities of different publications.
The look of WIRED, she realized, matched
very closely to her bold, crisp look, so she
reached out to the editors there and started
“For the most part, I know my people now,”
Oppermann says. “There are magazines that I
respect but I know my work isn’t a good fit for,
so I don’t spend a lot of time pursuing those.”
Her marketing strategy is made of three
parts: mail promos go out four times a year,
and a newsletter deploys three times a year.
“The biggest and most important thing
I’ve learned in my career is that you really
just need to remind people that you exist,”
Oppermann says. “There are so many amazing
photographers in New York, and no one’s
going to remember your name if you don’t put
it back in their head.”
Part three is Instagram, or, “free
advertising whenever you want to advertise,”
she says. “It’s less invasive than an email.
People are really weird about email, which is
why I send fewer newsletters than physical
postcards. If I get a newsletter that I’m not
really in the mood for, it’s annoying to me for
And let’s not forget the app’s Stories.
Though Oppermann treats them somewhat
differently, they serve the same purpose.
“I used to have a secret, dumb Instagram
account where I’d just post dumb things,”
she explains, “but now that’s sort of what I do
with Stories. They let people know you might
be fun to hang out with on set. At the end of
the day, it’s all business. There’s nothing that
I would ever post on social media—no matter
how silly or weird or stupid they might get—
that I feel doesn’t help me in some way.”
Calculated? Yep. Cold? Not quite.
Oppermann’s just doing this photography
thing for fun. “When it stops being fun,
I think I stop being good at my job,” she
says. “I’m always worried about taking the
same picture or the same portrait over and
over,” and by mixing up her approach, she’s
rewarded with offbeat assignments that
match her style: photographing prisoners
learning to code at San Quentin Maximum
Security Prison for WIRED, or failed bridges
under reconstruction in New Jersey for
M Le Monde, or Nike’s Breaking2. Clients
and editors trust Oppermann, and it’s her
permission to get weird.
LEFT: Shot during
a trip in 2015, in
Ritchie Torres, the
member of the New
York City Council,
The New Yorker.