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When Two Leaders Meet, Who Leads? A Magazine Photographer Focuses on the Answer.

By Seth Kaufman

When Two Leaders Meet, Who Leads? A Magazine Photographer Focuses on the Answer.

What happens when a leader in one field collaborates with a leader in another?

For celebrated magazine and commercial photographer Philip Friedman, that dynamic surfaces daily at client photo shoots.

Whether his subject is the President of the United States, Oprah Winfrey, or a nervous B-List client, Friedman has to remain in charge of the process.

But sometimes, leading means adapting.

"You have to figure out, are they responding to the way I'm talking to them? Do they like this? If they don't, should I pull away a little bit and try something else?" And other times, adaptation means letting a dynamic client take the lead.

"I photographed Stephen Squeri, the CEO of American Express, at his board meeting last week. He came in, sat down and started talking to me and my assistant about what we were doing. He warmed up the room, and he warmed up his board, and that was fantastic. I thought: That's somebody that I would want to work with. He's not somebody who ignores everybody, and I've seen that happen. A lot of leaders are just thinking about one thing, what's in front of them, instead of the big picture, which is their company, and that's why they often fail."

Friedman shares more of his thoughts on working with leaders in an interview with Vanguard's Ken Stone.

Listen to the podcast, read the transcript, or watch the video for more insights from Philip Friedman.

These thoughts are taken from a dialogue conducted on Oct 17, 2022. Participants may have changed companies and/or titles since then.

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