Untitled 2020: Meet Our Judge Rosey Lakos

Photo by Bryan Derballa

Rosey Lakos is the Director of Photography at Godfrey Dadich Partners, an innovative storytelling firm based in San Francisco. She curates and produces visuals for editorial and commercial clients ranging from National Geographic and the ACLU to Nike, Google, and IBM. The work may take the form of a magazine, a billboard, or everything in-between. Prior to GDP, Lakos was an integral part of the WIRED photo department where she produced award-winning feature and cover shoots. Before working in editorial, she managed the production of exhibitions, books, and global artist workshops in the fine art photography studio of Todd Hido. A photographer herself, Lakos has a valuable understanding of the craft and is delighted that she has been able to create a fulfilling career from her obsession with the medium. She has also served as a judge for numerous competitions, including American Photography 35 and SPD 54. Lakos has formed a strong network of award-winning photographers across many genres yet is constantly looking to partner with emerging talent and offers 1:1 portfolio reviews and coaching to POC/BIPOC photographers. When not shooting blurry oceanscapes on her vintage Rolleiflex, Lakos is often in the kitchen experimenting with fanciful cakes (or, farther afield, riding a horse over a mountain). She holds a BFA in photography from California College of the Arts.

MEET. Rosey  Lakos

Which photograph do you wish you owned if money was no object?

Well that is a very difficult question, because there are so, so many. But when I think of owning a piece I think of what I would want to live with and what would continue to intrigue me every day. I saw a piece by Dawoud Bey right before lock down called Untitled #25 that is a moody dark waterscape that I still think about. I would be happy to live with that one every day. 

What is your process when selecting a photographer to work with?  

Well it’s not always a linear process, and there are so many factors that narrow down possible options such as location, style and budget right off the bat. I am looking for someone that not only has the right technical skills, but also a personality, and attitude that will bring added value to the collaboration. Sometimes I get an immediate vision for how I see a story or brief coming to life and will think of a photographer whose work I know that would be a good fit right away. But that isn’t enough, because I am very conscious of my responsibility, and my privilege. Creatives are in decision-making positions, and have hiring power to determine how a story will visually come to life, and how it will be seen by hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people. It’s our job, and our opportunity, really, to shape and broaden what that looks like, not only by what is shown in front of the lens, but also by who is behind the camera. So I will push myself to dig deeper, keeping in mind how the photographer’s experience is going to add to the visual narrative. There are so many layers to the process, especially when working on an advertising campaign, that it really is like being a matchmaker. 

What is your preferred method for a photographer to reach out to you?

I will never be mad if someone sends me an email. I can’t guarantee that I will get back to them right away, but it definitely doesn’t hurt. Other platforms like IG and LinkedIn are not ideal. And I always love a good piece of mail, maybe a bit less so during a pandemic, but normally I really enjoy receiving a beautiful printed object I can hold in my hands. 

What makes a great photograph and what is your process when selecting images?

There are so many different things that can make a photograph great, but there is one thing that I feel all great photographs have in common, and that is the ability to evoke emotion. So I trust my heart first and foremost, and make sure that when I am looking at work I am tuned in to the gut reactions I am getting. I like to do one round of this kind of “listening” to do an initial sort of contenders, then I like to step away and come back to it in a few hours or even the next day to narrow down further.