A Freelance Art Producer Shena Hickman Shares Her Thoughts on Estimating

As I have said before,  both art producers and photographers alike ask the same questions when it comes to estimating.  Art Producers are interested in how other art producers are handling the process, what challenges they are facing and how they are handling them.   Photographers are feeling more and more in a vacuum and alone when it comes to the process and often do not have resources they can ask the questions they have.  I have posted these questions before but still think they are relevant.  Thank you Shena Hickman, Freelance Art Producer for your insights.

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?
For the past 10 years I have been lucky to work on brands where triple bidding has not been a mandate. I have done triple bidding in situations where the need made sense and time allowed.

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?
I’m a firm believer in letting photographers know where they stand in the bidding/award process. It’s common courtesy and a polite thing to do for their interest and time. But then again I’m a firm believer in returning emails and calls. You never know when you will be on the other end of not knowing or waiting for a response.

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?
In my experience cost and/ or creative have always been the defining factor. To date haven’t had any other reasons as to why a photographer didn’t get a job.

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?
Delays are typically due to Account/Client availability to review and approve cost. Either they have been traveling, in meetings or out of office.

5) 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?
We are just as eager to get the costs approved, advances paid and answers to creative questions. We are at the same mercy of hiccups in the process. Delays are even more frustrating for us as well as still tasked to pull together a great shoot process and deliver amazing imagery on time and within budget.

6) Do you share budgets when they are available? Why or why not?
It really depends on the circumstances around the project. Timing from estimating to shooting; is the job being triple bid; are there major budgetary constraints.

7) What is your client’s/agency’s policy surrounding advances on projects? What do you do as an art producer to help facilitate that process? And, what can a photographer do to help it along as well?
It depends on agency, client and time from award to shoot. I’ve gotten advances between 50 to 100% of estimated photo expenses depending on timing and the photographer.

8) What misperception about the estimating process from your end would you like photographers to have an clearer understanding of based on your experiences?
The only thing I would say is most agencies/ brands don’t have a 5-10% contingency on bottom line cost and can’t pad estimates for unforeseen cost. Especially if physical estimate has to be sent to client.

If you like Shena’s approach to estimating, she is available for freelance work.  You can find out more about her at her website or linkedin page.

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