What Does an Anonymous Art Producer Want You to Know About Estimating? Part 1.

I have always said that it would be nice if we had a handbook when it came to estimating.  Of course though we don’t and because of that, everyone seems to approach the process a little differently.  I actually think that is one of the greatest things about our job and just one more area we can put our own mark on a project.

Knowing this, I have reached out to many art buyers for their opinions on the estimating process. Barb Hanson contributed our last estimating post and it proved to be a very popular one.  Our most recent post is by an anonymous art buyer.  And while I cannot share with you her name, I can tell you that she is one of the most professional and well respected art producers out there.  Her dedication is evident by the amount of time she has committed to this industry and the time she has spent at one agency.  They are fortunate to have her.

Be sure to tune in Thursday, November 20 for Part 2 of the post.

How often are you asked to triple bid a project?
At least 75% of the time.
And, is there ever is a clear first choice, do you let that person know they are the recommend?
When there is a clear first choice, I tend to let that person know, if asked. And the reverse is true. I didn’t used to, but I find that often times people actually want to know if they are also not the first choice.  And,  if I clearly know that,  I tend to share that information as well. This is only when asked though. My practice is to maintain being as neutral as possible because you never ever know what is going to happen. I’ve seen AD’s change their minds and shift preferences mid stream. But if the AD strongly prefers one person over the others, and if asked by an agent whose photographer isn’t the first choice, it’s often best to let that information be known. Both sides are released from that stringing along feeling than often ensues.
Consideration has to be given especially when:
 1) It is not the first time you are bidding someone who is not the preferred, though we make every effort to avoid asking for a bid when previous bid did not yield an award with same person.
2) Someone is going through great lengths, switching schedules, communicating with ex: photographer’s European agent, to clear the way for you
3)And all the time, if you know this photographer is third choice, letting them know where they stand is the higher road to take. So, if asked, it’s difficult notto be straight with the agent. I think in most cases transparency is the correct route.
Sometimes after a photographer bids a job, they will not hear back in regards to the outcome. Can you shed some light on why that may be?
Getting back to each of the people who submitted a bid is simply being well mannered and responsible. It’s also the downside of the job when you have to let two out of the three people know they will not be getting the assignment. I make a point of always letting people know. As to why some AP’s do not get back to the the ones not chosen,  perhaps they prefer not being the bearer of bad news, or too busy?  This is understandable, but you need to look at the the bigger picture and remember that the agents are people you continue to have communications with and do business with,  And so, not following up seems worse.  The bigger picture is that one pretty much desires to have an enduring career as an AP.   So, don’t alienate those with whom you may need or work with at some point in the future.
We all know there are many reasons for a photographer not getting a project. Besides the obvious of price or creative, can you share some other reasons that they may not be awarded a project?
There are a ton of reasons and most have to do with these two obvious things, creative decisions and cost.  Most basic and the one most equally made more complicated (in the minds of photographers who weren’t awarded the assignment) is this: there was another photographer who had a slight edge over the rest.   Most all the time this is the case.  If you look at the layout, the work of the people who were considered or bid, then the answer usually lies in the body of work, the one campaign, or sometimes that single image attributed to the person who was awarded the assignment. When it’s a matter of a three way bid, only one person can be awarded the assignment of course. Ideally anyone who  is asked for a bid has to be someone you can live with, should the assignment default to say, the second or third choice.
Consider this example,  Miss America must relinquish in her crown because some naked pictures have just been revealed.  There has to be a back up to carry on, right? Jesting aside, you better have a good back up. Agencies that have to answer to cost consultants and set up pre bid meetings will know that all three bids have to be done in earnest. All three need to be of equal creative caliber, liked by the creative team, and let’s assume we are doing an involved production, have proven production experience.
Here are some other factors:
•  Client has a preference.
•  Client’s boss has a preference.
•  The Creative team’s supervisor has his or her opinion.
•  Creative team changes its mind in midcourse.
I’ve seen this last one happen a few times. It can and has occurred after the creative call, before submission of the bids. First hand anecdotes were both of the creative nature, and the creative call.  That said, having a really good creative call with the photographer on one hand, or a tepid call on the other.
What sort of things are you dealing with on your end to get an estimate approved?  We all know it is not always as easy as presenting a photo estimate for approval, so what other things could your client be considering at the same time that could hold up the process?  What sort of things are you doing behind the scenes that you would like photographers to know you are doing to sell in the project to a client?
I usually create a separate ‘look’ sheet that shows only the work of each photographer that is relevant to the project. This includes the inclusion of similar brand related experience. It can show breath of talent as well.  But, it usually relates to specific project at hand.  Based on the AD’s selections those pdfs are also used to present to the client at either a Pre Bid meeting or before we estimate .  The client is also given each of the web addresses of the photographers to view. Most often  clients do not want to view the entire website and we prefer it that way.  More often agencies do not want clients seeing other images that could sway them against our recommended photographer/s in the first place.
Be sure to tune in Thursday, November 20 for Part 2 of the post.

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