As Emily pointed out in a recent Facebook post, she and I have only known each other for a year. And, in that year, I have enjoyed getting to know her, watch her career evolve and most importantly, laugh with her. Since leaving her last gig, she has had some interesting and fun experiences so I thought to ask her if she would again contribute to our blog. We brainstormed a bit and she sent me this post below. I love how she talks about what it means to be a translator and then translates what that means for photographers. Thank you Emily! I wish you the best of luck in your next endeavor and can’t wait to see what happens next!
“I’ve been fortunate to have held positions in multiple and ever changing roles in the photography industry. Most recently as the art producer for creative ad agencies in Chicago and less recently as the photo editor for a magazine. And, previously, I did hard time with a few successful commercial photographers with a variety show of responsibilities that included anything from assistant to studio manager.
The opportunity to see the industry from multiple perspectives is invaluable. It’s like learning a new language. It’s learning to speak ‘Valley Girl’ in high school to be able to talk to the cheerleaders. Regardless of what clique you’re in, being able to speak another language connects you to new people. Interesting people; the kind of people that open the door to your next big thing.
What I’ve learned with these different responsibilities is to keep yours eyes open and your brain absorbing the dialects and nuances of the individual roles that contribute to the industry. While we all speak the same language, the art buyer dialect varies from that of an agent or rep. The nuances between account-speak and creative language is even greater. With this understanding, I’ve noticed a few indistinguishable trends and opportunities to evolve our communication together.
Lost in Translation
I often see work that I love but I struggle with how to apply it to the needs of my client. I hear the same coming from the creative and art directors. We bookmark or pin up artwork that inspires us, hoping that the right collaboration will present itself.
As a photographer, that translates into you helping art buyers and creatives bridge that gap. Make sure we’re seeing everything that is beautiful and inspiring about your personal work and remind us of your advertising campaigns as well. This ensures the appropriate and exciting work is hitting your desk and limits the idea of compromising your esthetic to appease the client.
Not to over-state the social media obvious, however, if you’re not leveraging any of the dozens of apps that allow you to connect with your target audience, you’re ignoring a huge potential client base. I’ve heard dozens of veteran photographers and agency creatives alike comment on the obsessive-like behavior in which juniors are posting meals on Facebook and counting likes on Instagram. While I agree that the over-share and the humblebrag must be stopped, with little filtering that obnoxious noise is muted and your custom content quickly rises to the top.
As a photographer, that means you have a captive audience that is looking to engage with you and your work. Sweeten the deal by sharing a personal project, hashtag the brand your shooting (pending no NDA’s), or credit the team you just worked with and your audience just become invested in new ways!
I was recently talking to a producer in that uniquely calculated and strategic way they communicate and I was intrigued by the idea of client and photographer loyalty.
Imagine a world with a loyalty membership program where clients earned points per every dollar spent for hiring the same photographer and crew over multiple projects and campaigns! The rewards would incentivize the client to become premier status and never experience blackout dates with their favorite photographer!
In reality, there are dozens of cooks in the client kitchen, each with their own opinions and ideas of best practices. It’s the myriad of circumstances that run the loyalty program off course. Unfortunately, it often comes down to budget or timing. Whatever the reason, it disregards integrity of the project. When the creative intent is eclipsed by something like schedule conflicts it’s disappointing to everyone.
Because, as bad as you want to earn those Virgin America mileage points, sometimes you have to fly United.”