Recently I lucky enough to share a meal with Ken Zane, a Senior Producer at Leo Burnett in Chicago. He and I got talking shop and the topic of The Creative Call came up. We were both sharing stories when I realized that this is a topic that never gets old and no matter where you are in your career, a reminder of how important these calls are, can never hurt
So, I asked Ken if he would answer a few questions on the subject and share his experiences with calls that lead to jobs for photographers who were not the first choice from the start. Here were his answers. Thank you Ken.
We all know how important the creative call is. But, given how many you are a part of, can you remind everyone how important they are and why?
The creative call is a very important part of Art Production. It is the single first point of contact between the photographer and the creative team. It’s an opportunity to speak to the project, ask questions and discuss approaches and ideas. It also gives everyone a chance to get a sense of personalities and enthusiasm for the project.
Sometimes a photographer is asked to be on a creative call but there are no specs sheet or layouts to review before hand. What is the agency team hoping to gain from a call like this? How can a photographer prepare?
Generally, I have never been in a situation where I have requested a creative call without both specs and or layout. So I’m not sure what can been gained by a call like that except to get a sense of the photographer’s personality. If a photographer is asked to do so there is no real way to prepare except to know your work and be prepared to speak to how you approach your work and any questions he may have about that particular brand that the agency is working on.
Besides ideas, what are the most important things to come out of a creative call?
A sense of comradery, knowing that this photographer is someone who you think can definitely do the job. Confidence in the photographers ability not only to execute the work but to articulate his vision for the project.
How would you respond to a photographer who says he or she is hesitant to share ideas on a creative call for fear that their idea will be taken and given to another photographer?
I myself and most of my creative’s are very sensitive about that. We know how valuable an idea is and would not want to share that or give it to another photographer. Trust is a very important part of being a good producer .
Do you think it’s important for the rep to be on the first call?
No, I do not. I think it is nice to have the informal intimacy on the first call with the photographer, creative team and producer.
Sometimes a photographer will know that they are not the first choice going into a creative call. What advice do you have for this situation?
Treat the call as if the job is already yours 🙂
Have you ever been in a situation where the 2nd or 3rd choice photographer did an amazing job on the call and ended up getting the job? What was that call like and what qualities did that photograph exhibit that made him/her succeed on that call?
Yes, that has happened. When the photographer asks the right questions or even presents ideas that we had not thought of it shows that he/she has really delved through the project and has an investment in it’s success. Enthusiasm is intoxicating! I once had a photographer send a treatment the next day and even shot test captures to demonstrate what he/she would do for us. It blew the entire team to his/her direction.
What do you think happened on the call that caused the first choice photographer to no longer be the favorite?
I’ve only been in a situation like that once or twice and it was honestly more about the way that photographer presented his/ herself,a lot of it boiled down to an attitude, whether it was not sounding enthusiastic about the project or challenging the Creative director.
I do truly enjoy my creative calls with my photographer’s and I think that both the call and treatments are equally as important. The treatment is a great way to follow up and really allow the Photographers vision to shine through!
©Image courtesy of David Martinez