One of the funniest, kindest and professional producers at an ad agency that I know offered to contribute to our blog recently. His name is Tom Adjemian and he is a producer at Tierney in Philadelphia. I have know him for years and he always has something funny and engaging to say. It is no wonder then that his post is just the same. Thanks Tom!
1) How often are you asked to triple bid a project? And, is there ever is a clear first choice, do you let that person know they are the recommend?
We triple bid all of our projects. We are required to do so for our clients, but even if we weren’t, I’d still likely do it. It’s always good to have options. It’s certainly good to be prepared with alternatives, in case anything changes at the last moment. As far as tipping my hand, that’s a bit of a superstition of mine. In my experience, as soon as I say something like “we’d really like to work with you on this”, something usually comes up that prevents it from happening. Still, I’ve done it before and I’d do it again. When it gets down to the wire, I do what I can to protect the wishes of our creative teams.
2) 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?
Incredibly poor form on the part of the producer. For any given project, any of a number of things could make one photographer more attractive than another. It could be their experience, it could be their bid, or it could be something else. At the end of the day, it’s important to note that while this project may not line up for one particular photographer, the next project may match perfectly. If you left that person hanging on the previous job, they probably wont be as interested in working with you on the next one. If you want a decent working relationship with someone, you should treat them with respect. That means communicating fully, even when things don’t work out.
3) 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?
On any given project, I’m not just looking for someone who has decent work and an affordable rate. I’m looking for people with whom we can work. The bidding process isn’t simply for putting numbers together; it’s an audition. I want to see how collaborative you are. I like to have the creative team interact with you, so they can get a feel for what the production may be like well before the shoot. If you don’t make time to speak with us, or if you’re reluctant to listen to any of our ideas, that’s incredibly valuable to know before we start our project. You could have brilliant work and a bid well within our budget, but if you’re an asshat, I won’t let our creatives go anywhere near you. Of course, I realize that this audition works both ways, as I’m sure many photographers would attest. We try to be on our best behavior as well.
4) 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. What other things could your client be considering at the same time that could hold up the process?
Nothing too out of the ordinary, really. A lot of the time we’re answering questions like, ‘Is a train billboard considered out-of-home?’, or ‘does this include internet use?’ We like to be as specific as possible up front with our photographers, so their bids are as specific as possible for our estimates. Our aim is to save our clients time and stress by presenting a simple estimate that includes everything they need to know. As to our client’s mindset, I’m sure there are many things that could slow down the process. I always remind myself that any given project of ours is almost certain to be one of many on our client’s plate at any given time. As such, we can’t expect to be served first every time. So, we wait. And our photographers wait. The calm before the proverbial storm, if you will. If you wont, well, I don’t have another cliché to offer. Apologies.
6) Do you share budgets when they are available? Why or why not?
I try to, whenever possible. Budget, timing, specific deliverables – all of these, for better or worse, influence every project. Providing as much information to vendors up front means the bids we receive will not only be within reach for us, but they will also be from people who are interested in working with us. Plus, that number will directly affect how creative we’ll have to be – agency and vendor. A low budget may not outright make a project impossible. We like to see – and have been pleasantly surprised before – photographers come up with creative solutions that make everyone happy. You learn a lot about your vendors based on your budget. And they learn a lot about us too.
8) What misperception about the estimating process from your end would you like photographers to have an clearer understanding of based on your experiences?
It’s not always about the money. There are indeed situations where the work is the sole driver behind awarding a project.
And a question that Tom added himself….
9) If you were stranded on a dessert island, would you eat it, understanding that without this island you would have no home to be stranded on?
You know, this is something I think about rather often. And when I say rather often, I mean not once. Ever. Now, however, I am thinking about it almost exclusively. I suppose it all depends on what the dessert is, right? With ice cream, you don’t have much time anyway. Might as well go out in style and eat it up. If it’s something more like a sturdy, old-fashioned apple pie, maybe you find some sort of compromise and eat only half of it.