So often people want to know the story behind the photographer or the creative on a project, but what about the production team that works with the photographer? More specifically, what about the on-set producer? In the past, I’ve highlighted art producers. This time, I wanted to have a discussion with an on-set producer; those that work directly with photographers. What follows is a celebration of producers, who they are and what makes them tick.
Being an on-set producer is such a unique position. You do not learn about it in college, and many tend to discover it through another job. How did you find out what the role entails and how did you know you wanted to hold this position?
It is so unique and no two days are the same ever. I started as an Art Buyer at TBWA Chiat/Day and was lucky enough to be working closely with so many photographers. I quickly learned that creating and curating art for advertising was WAY more than merely hiring a great photographer. It was about understanding personalities and finding the right teams that can work together seamlessly and quickly. Watching other producers on this job made me realize that I was interested in being fully immersed on the production side to help make the magic happen on all levels. I love the pace, connecting people and making everyone’s life a little bit easier. I knew right away that being a producer was the perfect job for me for all of these reasons.
Growing up, what were your creative interests and what things interested you most that led you to your current position as a producer?
I always have a passion for outdoor adventure, planning trips, writing about them and then sharing them with the world. This passion quickly translated into production for me, because it’s so similar. We get to travel to new locations and experience them in a very different way than you would if you were personally traveling. I learn so much from various places and people. It’s also very nice to share these with other photographers, clients, producers and referring work in this way.
Did you ever consider becoming a photographer yourself?
Not in a commercial sense. I love shooting pictures myself, but I’m much more interested in seeing what others shoot and helping them make the magic happen.
How did you describe your job to your mother or someone else not in our industry?
This is a great question! I tell these people that I’m like a wedding coordinator, except that the weddings happen much quicker and there’s a lot more of them.
What one thing has changed in the industry since you started that you think makes for a better production experience?
Cell phones & navigational maps has made all the difference! It used to be an absolute nightmare getting all the crews to the right location, not having that initially really taught me how to research and get answers quickly. Not having Google to look things up all the time forced me to source things by connecting to people and talking.
What do you love about your job?
The human connections
What is the most challenging?
Keeping up with emails.
What one thing would you want someone looking to become a producer themselves to know about the skills needed to get the job done?
You need to be up for anything at all times and not take things personally. You need to truly embrace the idea of not knowing your schedule and things shifting all the time. These two things are crucial.
Photographers tend to find a producer or team and use them consistently making it hard for a new producer to get noticed. Do you find that most of your clients are long term? And, if so, how do you handle new photographer requests?
Our goal is always to make sure our clients are long term and want to work with us again; therefore, many of our photographer and clients are long term. But there’s always scheduling conflicts where another producer becomes necessary. There’s a lot of work out there, so the good producers typically float to the top and are top of mind. For anyone starting, I would say offer one day of their time to a photographer they are interested in working with and take that opportunity to shine.
We handle new photographer requests by just jumping right in. We love it when a new photographer wants to team up. I enjoy cultivating relationships, and the starting point is enjoyable because you’re in the ‘getting to know you’ phase.
What are you known for in the production world?
Being honest, transparent, flexible and hard working. Work hard / Play hard. We have cultivated a great team at Production Squad that work hard, and we all like to enjoy different things, whether it’s pulling a skateboard out or making the shoot special in some unique way.
Favorite way to spend a Sunday?
Sleeping in, hemp milk latte, reading a book outside on the front porch and then spending the day outside doing something adventurous (hiking, mountain biking, skate skiing, snowboarding, skateboarding, walking the dog). Then cooking dinner and watching a good flick before going to bed.