How to handle the hype

Photographer Sophie Mayanne, artist Jean Jullien, and Closer&Closer agent Drew Melton discuss how to manage pushy journalists, projects that go viral overnight and the ever-faster hype cycle that young creatives face

“When I started Behind the Scars, I didn’t intend for it to be big at all,” says photographer Sophie Mayanne. The project – which features portraits of people with scars alongside the stories behind them – went unexpectedly viral in 2018, after it was picked up by national papers in the UK.

For Mayanne, who didn’t have any experience interacting with the press at the time, it was a challenging experience. “I didn’t really know how to deal with it,” she tells CR. “I didn’t have an agent, and the girl who was in one of the photos had a PR agency – they called me and said, this isn’t right, they need to ask you for permission, and all of those papers owe you money for using that image. I was like, do they? I didn’t know you could demand that.”

Mayanne says it was a steep learning curve, but also a good grounding in how to take back control of her work. Like many newcomer creatives, the photographer had never received any training in how to deal with the press or the attention that comes when projects take off – despite this being an increasingly important part of many artists, illustrators and photographers’ practice.

Image from Sophie Mayanne’s Body Proud Mums campaign for Mothercare – a project that she says the press attention for Behind The Scars helped her land