10 minutes with Sacha Lecca

Interviews with Photo Editors February 25, 2013 7:24 am

When did you first become interested in photography?

It’s a family business. I was around twelve years old when father, a photography enthusiast, went pro and he passed down to me his Nikon FM, then later a Canonet Q17. Shortly after that I was processing and printing my own work even, at times, my father’s fashion work. I’ve been shooting ever since.

In High School, and for some time in college I studied computer science (I was a code monkey). I later did a 180 and switched my major to Art History which led me to first working the Frick Museum printing in their darkroom (which was in one of the old servants quarters) and then for a short time at the Guggenheim Museum. 

From there I got hired by Newsweek’s photo dept and I’ve been with magazines ever since.

That’s pretty awesome. Its in your blood! Are you still shooting? 

Oh yes, but mainly as a personal creative outlet. I (still) skate and so I’ve been shooting a lot of skateboarding in NYC – some of that work was JUST featured in Relapse magazine. I have been lucky to shoot a little bit for Rolling Stone incl coverage of Occupy Wall St, and various artists like the Black Keys. Also the Strokes but not for Rolling Stone (was a personal project).

My position as a photo editor at Rolling Stone keeps me very busy and I really don’t have that much time to shoot so it’s whenever I can find the spare time.


One of Sacha's bookshelves

One of Sacha’s bookshelves

Beautiful work. What do you like most about being a photo editor? And what would you say is your least favorite part?

Thank you!

It excites me to get to look at great work everyday, but what I especially appreciate is when everything aligns perfectly and a truly great image (whether it’s from an assignment or a researched image) gets used really well. Simple as that.

One thing that irks me are promo email blasts. I think it makes much more sense for photographers to target editors of magazines where their work fits. I get tons of emails each day that just don’t apply (ie babies, food, lifestyle).

It’s a pet peeve I might repeat too much.

So what kind of marketing has worked for you? If the work is consistant with Rolling Stones style, do you like getting email promos or prefer mailers? Do you hate cold calls as much as I do? Do you like meeting in person?
And how are you finding new photographers to work with?

I think email marketing is great but ones that are sent personally to me, yes, especially ones with some effort to connect the work that someone is doing with work that we produce and run in the magazine. Printed mailers I like as well but I have to admit I throw away the majority that I get. Either they are not appropriate to Rolling Stone and/or not very good. Of printed promos I think a strong single postcard is fine as long as the imagery is strong and engaging and there is a name, phone #, email address and location listed.

Besides that I’m finding people mostly via word of mouth from other editors, work in other mags, photo festivals, portfolio reviews, photo blogs etc…

I admit that I don’t LOVE cold calls but that’s only because I’m usually swamped when in the office. I think a phone call follow up to an email is a good way to go though (not immediately after sending the email).

As for in person meetings, same problem with being to swamped in the office, but I consider it a part of my job to try to do this as often as possible. I’ll often book them earlier than my day actually starts so many photographers must think it’s a very quiet office with no one around.

Sacha's cubicle: "t's almost cave like as it's in the corner of the photo dept space I share with two others… (I have a cork board I just keep adding images I like to it - rarely promos, but images, tearsheets, etc.)"

Sacha’s cubicle: “t’s almost cave like as it’s in the corner of the photo dept space I share with two others…
(I have a cork board I just keep adding images I like to it – rarely promos, but images, tearsheets, etc.)”

I doubt many people think Rolling Stone is a quiet office.. 
Did you, or do you, ever daydream about other jobs aside from photo editing? Do you think you might shoot full time at some point?

Actually, it’s being a photo editor that I never considered. It’s the sort of position that few people dream about (I think) or work towards, and just find themselves doing. Despite the very crowded field, I would like to shoot at some point but for now I’m content in this role, and in particular being at Rolling Stone. 

Do you have any thoughts on the future of publishing? What will change, what you think magazines will look like – what you would want to see happen?

I started my magazine career at Newsweek. They did such good work and had a strong recognizable brand and yet are now not producing a print edition. It’ll be interesting to see if a digital only magazine of that size (ie staff, budgets, etc) can survive.

Rolling Stone just recently launched a tablet version their own iPad app (it had previous been available on via Zinio’s app which was just a PDF of the print edition) which looks great BTW, but the priority still is print.

So who knows? Overall it’ll be the marketplace that decides and sales of tablets are huge. I have one too, but it doesn’t match the experience of reading a printed magazine or book.

Sacha Lecca photographed by Michelle Molloy

Sacha Lecca photographed by Michelle Molloy


Sacha Lecca is a Senior Photo Editor at Rolling Stone with over 19 years’ experience in magazine publishing, including stints at Newsweek and CMP Media.

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