I sat in on one creative call the other day and it got me thinking.
Everyone talks about how important this call is and how it is one of the most important parts of the bidding process. I have interviewed people on my blog who have said it is the single most important part of the process and others who have said photographers have lost jobs because of a poor showing on the call. It is so important, I have even dedicated entire posts about it, one of which was just this week. The call is that important.
What I was thinking during this particular call was that no one often talks about the responsibility of the people hosting the call. What makes a creative call successful beyond the photographer needing to be a rock star? What could the team hosting the call do to create an environment where the photographer can be most relevant? Remember, photographers are visual people and not all of them are naturals on the creative call. So, prompting them with relevant questions will open up the conversation and provide many more insights than if the conversation were to just unfold on its own.
While of course, there are many amazing calls where all parties come prepared and enthusiastic, this particular call was really an eye opener and I was inspired to share with everyone what made it so unique. Creating such a positive and collaborative environment for the photographer and team to share ideas and talk about themselves in a relevant way to the project led to some very creative ideas.
Here are 4 points that are worth noting:
• We were sent the spec sheet and layouts well in advance of the call. I know this sounds obvious, but there are many times that specs sheets or layouts are not available or we receive them seconds before the call. And, sometimes, when we ask for them, the request is even met with annoyance. These examples are the exception but do occur. Of course, the photographer is still expected to offer ideas and insights and the ones who are naturals on the call don’t even skip a beat.
• The client asked the photographer questions about herself before talking about the project. I thought this was brilliant. Rather than jumping right into the project, the team gave the photographer a chance to explain what inspires her and remind the participants why she loved photography. It felt respectful and led to the photographer asking the client what inspired them and how they defined a successful shoot. The conversation led to a deeper understanding of what the client expected than would have if we just stuck to the shot list. And, all participants were able to draw from this shared information when we eventually talked about the creative.
• Rather than just describing the shots, the clients asked very pointed questions about the approach and vision for each shot. I have sat on many calls where the team that talks the photographer and producer through the shot list does so as if they are presenting to a client. They are not engaging the photographer by asking questions along the way. Often, the photographer is left only to nod in agreement (who would see that anyway?), say yes or offer compliments. Remember, these calls are sometimes crowded and there is not the benefit of seeing anyone’s faces or reactions so it is hard to know when to jump in. By asking a photographer a pointed question, they are able to offer their insights without feeling like they are interrupting the flow of the conversation.
• The client closed by asking the photographer if there was anything else she wanted to share. Again, I thought this was brilliant and an easy way to provide an opportunity for the photographer to share. This question allowed the photographer to draw from what she heard on the call, her knowledge of the shot list and her own vision to offer a summary of how she is the best choice for the project. And, on a call where there was not much opportunity to jump in, this would be the perfect way to do so.
While of course, there are many amazing calls where all parties come prepared and enthusiastic, this particular call was really an eye opener and I was inspired to share with everyone what made it so unique.