Meet Our Untitled 2019 Judge | Michele Romero

We welcome this year’s judge, Michele Romero.

Michele is a renown creative image consultant and former Photo Editor at Entertainment Weekly Magazine where she produced award winning magazine photography for 29 years for a National Magazine with a focus on Global Pop Culture. Romero is a concept artist who’s incredibly passionate about photography and is looking forward to curating this year’s Untitled Personal Work exhibition.

Michele will curate the show of the top 20 photographs
and prizes will be awarded for the top 3 images. Find full details and submission guidelines at


MEET. Michele Romero

Which photograph do you wish you owned if money was no object?
Andreas Gurskey, “Die Tote Hosen”, it’s a gajillion dollars and I think at The Broad but I saw it at MoMa and wept because I love his work and also rock and roll.
What is your process when selecting a photographer to work with?
It depends on the job, which seems like an obvious answer but it is not. For commercial magazine photography, actual lighting skills are a must or were a must. I like concept photography so veered towards photographers who could make narrative work well in one panel. I like a surprise too. One of my favorite assignments was shooting Marilyn Manson at his home in New Orleans. The photographer Max Aguilera-Hellweg had just put out a book called “The Sacred Heart” which was entirely beautifully haunting surgery photographs. I sent the book to Manson and he greenit the assignment. And the shot was perfect. This question always deserves a longer answer.
What is your preferred method for a photographer to reach out to you?
I like seeing great work, period.  And I think building a great instagram profile is paramount.  It is a turnoff for me to see a photographer take selfies with talent or to not keep their feed focused on great work. My colleagues and I discover great new photographers on this platform and I hired a great assistant because her Instagram photographs were fantastic
What makes a great photograph and what is your process when selecting images?
This question also deserves a long answer. A great photograph to me begs a question.  It means I look at it and wonder about it and question it but never solve it.  So I want to keep looking. The intrigue can be beautiful or weird or funny or smart or sublime or exciting. Or it could be iconic which means it happened for the first time. For example, Jimi Hendrix lighting his guitar on fire at Monterey Pop. First time anyone did that. Shot by Ed Caraeff.
A photograph should also ideally show us something new. In reportage it means take me where I cannot go. For portraits it is beauty and intimacy. I am nuts about composition. Many photographers pay no attention to background and think only the foreground is important. All of it is important. For magazine covers, we tried to go for images that would excite or ignite the reader.
As a photo editor at EW you must have faced issues or constraints when putting together the magazine. What were some production challenges and how did you overcome them?
My favorite challenges involved problem solving. Not knowing how to do something makes me want to figure it out always. You can learn to be fast by knowing when you have the picture. The key is pre-planning. Stand-ins or sketches but the image needs to be worked out before talent arrive. Lit and ready to go.  You really only need them for 10 minutes which they LOVE!  I’ll give you an example of a challenge that I overcame with Matthias Clamer. We photographed James Corden for an EW cover for Carpool Karaoke. I thought, “well, what if he is on a car in a pool”, quick pun, getter done.  Matthias is a brilliant problem solver and so it is super fun to give him a challenge to puzzle out. He shot Corden in a studio on an old Mercedes he bought for $1000 (we would later set this car on fire). Matthias put blue plastic beneath the car so he could get a water reflection in post later. Corden stood on top of the vehicle and sang. That was one part of the photograph. Then we had to shoot the car in a pool and comp it together. For days Matthias refused my calls asking how the pool hunting was going. No one would lend him their pool. And so I remembered this scene in a making of the Titanic movie where Cameron was in a pool on a soundstage and I clicked to “above ground pool”. So I bought one on the internet for 200 dollars and had it trucked down from Northern California and we drove the car onto the plastic liner and build the pool around the car, filled it with water and VOILA, SUCCESS.