This industry is and will always be a collective of the personalities within it. For three decades, one of the most unique and respected within photography wasn’t a photographer, but a rep, Bill Stockland.
Photographers the world over knew the likes of Stockland-Martel, many of us aspired to be repped by them, very few were lucky enough to be. For me, it was a goal, but one that I always felt I needed to work more to earn. No matter the success or campaigns I was lucky enough to have, I always held to the view that I needed to work harder to even consider a future with Stockland-Martel.
However, my path to these aspirations started very early on. I was 21 years old when I received an invitation from Bill Stockland to come to New York and visit with him. For a kid my age to receive such a privilege was overwhelming to say the least. Truth be told, I arrived 40 minutes early to the Stockland-Martel office (when they were at Union Square) and instead of sitting in the lobby, I went across the street and got a Sprite from a street vendor, for I was so nervous that I had thrown up and needed to get the taste out of my mouth. I was genuinely scared shitless as this was also my very first time to New York and my world had not experienced the “city” that is Manhattan.
When I walked up the stairs I was greeted in the lobby by Maureen Martel, and immediately everything was okay. She was so kind and, looking back on it, could probably sense how nervous I was. She toured me around the front part of the office and eventually back to the desk where Bill sat, on the phone with Jim Fiscus (one of the photographers I have always looked up to). Bill wrapped up his phone call and I introduced myself. What struck me to this day is that at that moment, all formalities were out the door and Bill was immediately a friend. His personality is one of kindness and softness, but extreme knowledge of the industry. His easy going demeanor was welcoming and enthusiastic, it made me feel right at home.
After talking at length and going over the first portfolio I had ever made, Bill walked me to the room that had a number of his employees at desks and on the phone. He introduced me to them all with the kindest words I had ever heard and to this very day I find myself pushing harder on set to try and earn the compliments he gave. It was indeed one of the most surreal experiences of my career and one that I will never take for granted.
Over the years I have stayed in touch with Bill and he would call and we would chat about the direction of the industry and the progressions of styles that were in demand. When the news came through that he and Maureen had decided to close Stockland-Martel, I was saddened, but happy simultaneously. On one hand, my goal of working together with them would never be realized. However, on the other hand, Bill and Maureen, friends and good people, would be able to enjoy a retired live that they had worked so hard to earn.
Stockland-Martel will forever be a legacy to photography. We will miss their presence, but celebrate the time we had together.