Jennifer Yoffy is an Atlanta-based arts advocate who has authored books, founded a non-profit organization and for five years ran a gallery—all with the goal of supporting emerging and mid-career photographers.
Now, as the founder and owner of Yoffy Press, she is partnering with photographers to produce boundary-pushing photobooks. She is also challenging the photobook publishing industry’s dominant pay-to-play model, which she believes takes unfair advantage of photographers.
Jennifer, tell me about the journey that led to the founding of Yoffy Press.
I have worked with fine art photographers in a variety of capacities over the past ten years or so, and I have always been interested in creating opportunities that are beneficial for all parties involved. I owned a gallery, drove a VW bus around the country giving away art, created an online sales platform, started a non-profit, developed a photo retreat program, and consulted with photographers about how to build audiences for their work. In all of these adventures, I have tried to bring innovation to the status quo. I’ve also tried to have a lot of fun. Yoffy Press feels like the culmination of everything I’ve done and the perfect way to apply all of the lessons I’ve learned, both about the industry and about they way I want to work with artists.
Why is important to you to nurture emerging and mid-career photographers?
I worked primarily with emerging and mid-career photographers through the gallery and non-profit, but with Yoffy, I’m working with a lot of established artists as well. I love working with all photographers – from just starting out to Guggenheim fellows – mostly because I thrive on the inspiration I get from them. I love being around their passion and creative energy.
What is different about Yoffy Press?
I have learned from all of my various pursuits that I get the most enjoyment and personal fulfillment from working in true partnership with artists. Yoffy is collaborative. The artists and I work together through every stage, from concepting to selling, and we share the work and the profits. And of course, I’m not interested in doing anything the traditional way. I want to create books that are art objects. I’m interested in strong projects that, when married to unique design, become something elevated and new.
Do you think enough companies invest in rising creatives?
Of course not! I understand there is a risk to hiring out of the box people. It may take more time and resources to nurture and train raw talent, but the rewards can be exponential.
Tell us about your day to day role at Yoffy.
Day to day, I get to do amazing things. I talk to exceptionally talented artists about their work. I edit and sequence inspiring projects. I read and comment on essay drafts from brilliant writers. I even get to satisfy my super type-A side by managing the production process and keeping a hundred balls in the air. It’s a dream job.
What do you look for in as qualities in people you work with?
I want to work with people who are authentic and kind. Talent is important, but at the end of the day, I want to surround myself with good people.
What are your top career tips for aspiring creatives?
Work hard. Take risks. Only put work out into the world that you love and can be proud of.
Which titles on Yoffy’s list would you recommend as giving insight into your ethos as a company?
Our first three titles say a lot about who we are. We are publishing a deconstructed book about Afghanistan (Front Towards Enemy by Louie Palu), a book of post-Civil War photographs made from a peach pie ingredient albumen (1864 by Matthew Brandt), and a book about cats (Humble Cats, in collaboration with Humble Arts Foundation)*. Yoffy clearly isn’t locked into one aesthetic. We’re just want to make dynamic visual statements.
*All books will be released in early fall and are available for pre-order at www.yoffypress.com.
Portrait of Jennifer Yoffy by Sean Randall