I met Ben Milam, a producer at Leo Burnett’s Arc Worldwide on a shoot with Leigh Beisch. Since he came all the way to San Francisco we thought it would be fun to take him out for a nice dinner while he was here. How we landed last minute reservations at DELFINA, I am not sure. But I do know that the atmosphere, the delicious meal and the Italian red wine led to a very interesting conversation about photographers adding video and motion work to their offerings and how clients should consider video more often because photographers can now partner with them to provide it.
When he returned to Chicago, I asked him if he would write about his thoughts for our blog. Here is what he shared.
“Marketing dollars have a way of gravitating toward alternative methods of production in slow economic times causing clients to look for more ways to make their dollars go further. The general consensus in marketing and advertising is that restricting resources can cripple the final creative product. And in some cases, fiscal restrictions on production costs can do more harm than good.
In other cases, having limited resources can also concentrate creative output. A perfect example is the increasing focus of still photographers to also create motion work. Technology is granting more and more photographers access to quality motion output. Combine that with the rising amount of digital signage plus a sluggish economy and you’ve got a market for hybrid, budget-friendly photo shoots that also now have a need for capturing motion.
Numerous photographers already offer this type of hybrid shoot but can experience criticism when their work is compared to traditional broadcast work. Motion equipment used by photographers can sometimes be lower caliber compared to that on a motion shoot. And it’s true that most photographers don’t have a vast amount of experience with broadcast work. Even though there are plenty of reasons to ignore this type of hybrid shoot, the ever-increasing amount of digital executions will drive an increased demand for budget-minded motion work.
This doesn’t mean that traditional motion shoots are going away. It also doesn’t mean that the quality of the hybrid shoot should be sub-par. It simply means that we will see a growing demand for this type of photographer.
In order to capitalize on its full capabilities, why not consider motion more often? It’s helpful to look at this from a retail and shopper marketing standpoint instead of from a traditional broadcast view. Digital signage opens up the option for motion in point-of-sale outlets that were normally static and it continues to expand. Monitors continue to show up at bus stops, retail storefronts, and everywhere else you can think of. Some might even go as far as to suggest repurposing TV spots for retail outlet use but why treat retail content the same as television spots? Remember that most digital signage will not have the consumer’s full attention the same way that a television screen does.
So, why not find a creative partner that can help you explore these possibilities? The goal is to find great photographers that share the creative vision of their client and agency partners while having the agility to capture relevant motion work. A photographer is the perfect partner. They are willing to evolve their offerings, they have experience with working with smaller budgets and they are knowledgeable as to what is needed on set to combine both still and motion.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to start thinking about the upcoming challenges of presenting larger production budgets to clients that normally see estimates for still-only photo shoots.
Happy Holidays everyone. Lauranne, Taya and I hope you are surrounded by friendship and family this holiday season and are able to take some time off to enjoy everyone you love.
We wanted to take this time to thank all of you for your support for our blog. We had no idea when we started this almost two years ago that it would be embraced by the community as it has. The conversations we have had this year are compelling, interesting and fun! We really appreciate how you all engage with the blog and help keep it alive. It is a special part of who we are at Heather Elder Represents and we have you to thank for that.
Since our offices will be closed until Monday, January 7th we will be taking a break from posting. Until then, enjoy some of our most popular posts this year.
• We had some really wonderful Art Producers interviews for our Art Buyer Insider and Solving Mystery Series. Sandy Boss Febbo, Char Eisner, Suzee Barabee, Jason Lau, Lisa Crawford, Beverly Adler, Julie Rosenoff , Cindy Hicks and Ken Zane just to name a few.
I subscribe to a lot of blogs so my in box is often filled with information, ideas, opinions and photos from all different types of creative people. Of all the blogs I read, Chris Crisman’s blog shares some of the most relevant commercial photography related information out there. I am not just saying this because we represent Chris, but I really do believe it. I am always proud to share what they post.
In a recent post , Robert Luessen (Chris’ right hand) and Chris, share with their assistants the top 11, well 12 actually, tips that the studio thinks are crucial for photo assistants to understand to be successful in commercial photography.
My absolute favorite is #3. I am going to email it to the kids in my carpool. It applies there too!
Do you know Amanda Cooper? Well, if you don’t I strongly recommend you get to know her or at least her work. She is one of the most enthusiastic and dedicated creatives that I know. When she and I connected at Le Book Connections LA I knew instantly she would be a great contributor to our blog. Her ideas about the industry were spot on and she obviously had her finger on the pulse of what was going on in our industry. That made her idea to start a conversation about the real Potential of Pintest that much more interesting.
Amanda described her post best when she titled her contribution: Pintrest Potential;An informative guide to helping to navigate and leverage the creative community capabilities of one of the web’s hottest visual social sharing tools.
Here is what she had to say.
There’s been quite a lot of buzz around the site Pinterest.com lately, and it’s pretty hard not to notice the growing volume of visual updates by photographers, stylists and art directors via Facebook and Twitter which map back to beautiful images hosted on this very site.
Especially with recent statistics (posted April 13, 2012) reporting data:
—As of January 2012, American users spent an average of 97.8 minutes on Pinterest. http://bit.ly/IZ1c05
So that’s pretty great for general public stats…
But how does that translate to our industry and specifically as a professional tool for photographers, directors/DPs, stylists, art buyers and/or art directors??
If you’re not already using Pinterest, it’s a great platform both for finding and collecting inspiration as well as organizing and archiving your discoveries for future project resources. Pinterest, in general, works as a great tool for conducting client, product and/or consumer/demographic research as well as for the creative responsibilities of developing mood boards or treatments for bids, putting together comps and assembling storyboards.
Pinterest provides a great opportunity for photographers/DPs to gain more exposure of their work to general public and also to network with other professional creatives and brands. Many agency art directors, graphic designers and typographers are incredibly enamored with the site and often frequent the site on a near-daily basis to gather research and/or archive their work. Thus, it’s a huge opportunity to network and connect with creatives who may be affiliated with agencies a photographer may want to reach out to—or simply collaborate with an art director or designer on a side project or identity re-design.
The great thing about Pinterest, is that the social sharing is based around visual files. Much like Instagram—it provides the ability to discover others’ galleries and work developments via the connections based on like-minded, relative visual styles. (And since Pinterest provides a profile area at the very top of each user page—it’s incredibly easy to source a particular artist’s website, twitter or facebook page after discovering their Pinterest pins.
I’ve noticed several photographers and brands even beginning to create pinboards that additionally showcase their image libraries, instagram galleries, campaigns and recent projects.
This is a simply yet another free social platform which allows for very quick and easy hosting of one’s work, increasing the opportunity to gain more public exposure.
Obviously, posting on Pinterest as a photographer allows possibilities for the general public, art directors and/or art buyers, brands and potential clients to discover one’s images. Thus, the more clearly the credit attribute information is labeled, (in addition to website URL) ensures a greater chance of proper credit to be established, as well as chance for others to re-direct back to portfolio site as a resource. Having the artists’ name with copywright symbol also helps in discouraging those re-pinning the image(s) from modifying associated credit information and provides greater chance for this information to travel around the Pinterest site (and distributed web) with proper credit attributes.
Here is a great format that I personally use when pinning images from professional photographers which helps provide a pretty visible, clear copyright association:
Additionally, there are a few other ways in which professional photographers can prepare their galleries on portfolio sites to help encourage Pinterest integration with their work:
-Adding instant share (Pinterest) social icon button to website images:
-Although many photographers are less concerned with using watermarks these days as it discourages the “social share” factor—even if you decide not to incorporate them into images, it’s best to add any relative copyright adjacent to image(s) or ensure to have a page on website clearly showing general copyright information whenever possible.
–Embedding metadata into image files and in image file naming system (ie. when saving/exporting out of Lightroom, Photoshop, ensure to embed all associated URLs, copyright info and meta data) so that if someone does pull an image which may have missing info—there is a chance of still maintaining related information. (This is especially key for videographers and DPs out there, as Pinterest is now allowing users to pin videos—if a pinner pulls a video from Vimeo or YouTube—Vimeo currently features the Pinterest-share icon associated with videos, however, YouTube currently does not offer this direct capability at the time of this post.)
Do note, most flash galleries do not allow for compatibility with the Pinterest browser toolbar app.
See image below for what occurs when one attempts to use the Pinterest toolbar app. to pin an image featured in a flash gallery:
(In some cases, I have seen images on Pinterest by photographers who I know host flash-based galleries.) My guess it that these images were then either screen-shots or they were pulled from images hosted externally from portfolio(s) elsewhere on the distributed web.
For general public pinners, if you can additionally try to ensure the following information is visible whenever you add new content, or simply help to correct/update the information (if you notice it’s missing credits) when re-pinning any images/videos—that is always ideal…And somewhere the original artist will be thanking you for taking the time to help preserve the integrity of their work as they generously allow our greater community to enjoy it!
Amanda N. Cooper is a freelance Art Director, Designer living/working between S.F. & L.A. and is deeply passionate about photography and surfing. She has been an active member of the Pinterest community since April of 2011 and her first re-pin on the site was of a beautiful, rusted-out vintage VW bus parked at a surf break. You can see more of Amanda’s work, link to Pinterest collection and learn more about her at: graphicsdiva.com/
Leslie Burns, of Burns Auto Parts fame has recently joined forces with Carolyn Wright of PhotoAttorney.com to further educate the photo community on legal issues. Once Leslie was officially onboard, timing was right to ask her if she would consider contributing to our blog. She did not hesitate and offered to share with us what she thinks are the 5 most popular legal errors in the photo world. If you have other questions not addressed here, please email me and we will see if we can get them answered.
5 Popular Legal Errors in the Photo World
There is a lot of mixed legal information out there now. Unfortunately, much of the info available, particularly on sites like Wikipedia, is legally inaccurate and can hurt you if you rely on it. So, in the spirit of trying to help, here is a list of five common legal misconceptions in the photo world.
1. If you make a photo, you have to register its copyright within three months or it’s not worth bothering.
This is a common misunderstanding of the 3-month rule. That rule is really a safe harbor for published photos. It says that if you shoot a photo and publish it, you have 3 calendar months from that first publication date to register the image’s copyright and it will be like you registered it the day it was published. If someone infringes on your work during that time, you can still get the enhanced remedies of statutory damages and attorneys’ fees, even if you register it after the infringement starts (as long as you register within those 3 months).
The general rule is that you have to register the work before an infringement to get enhanced remedies, but the 3-month rule gives you a window. However, lots of infringers will say you can’t get statutory damages and attorneys’ fees if you don’t register within three months, period. That isn’t true. As long as you register before the infringement starts, you can get enhanced remedies–even years after you make the photo. And you have to register your work to bring suit anyway. So please, register all your work, as soon as possible!
2. You must pay your models real money or the release is invalid.
“Consideration” is a nebulous concept in contract law but the fundamental thing is that it doesn’t have to be of the same value on both sides. So, although you need consideration and it should be mentioned on your model releases that there has been an exchange of consideration (“given and received”), that consideration can be a dollar or a print or just about anything.
Relatedly, always get a release signed if you possibly can, even if you don’t think you need one. Better to have one and not need it than the reverse. It;s damn cheap “insurance.” The release apps are fine, but take photos of IDs to prove age and identity just to cover your butt.
3. If your work appears on a site with a DMCA Takedown Notice procedure and the site takes down your work, you cannot sue anyone for the infringement.
DMCA takedownsonly protect the third-party hosts of blogs, user-generated content sites, etc. So, for example, if you make a video and someone posts it to YouTube (without your permission or a license) and YouTube takes it down when you ask, you cannot sue YouTube; however, you can sue the person who put your work up there in the first place!
4. There is no need for a copyright notice on your work.
Although there is no requirement that you post a copyright notice with your work in order for the full protections of copyright to apply, if you do post one it can make a big difference in any infringement case. If there is a notice and your work gets infringed, that eliminates the possibility of “innocent infringement” by the infringer. Also, if the infringer removes your notice, you may have a claim under the DMCA for Copyright Management Information removal (the DMCA is not just about takedowns).
5. If someone uses a photo on a personal blog or editorially, or if someone only uses a small part of a work, that use is Fair Use.
Fair Use is a much, much more complicated thing than most people think. Courts must look at all four factors in each case and those factors are not what they sound like to the lay person on top of it all: Purpose of the use; Nature of the use; Amount and substantiality of the work used; and, Impact on the potential marketability of the work. So, for example, while a non-commercial use is a plus in the Fair Use column, it is not close to conclusive. There are cases where a whole work being used was Fair Use, and others where a very small part of a work was not Fair Use. There simply are no hard and fast rules. You should definitely ask a lawyer before assuming something is or is not Fair Use.
By the way, this post is offered for educational and informational purposes only and should not be taken for legal advice. Yes, I have to say that.
Leslie Burns has been involved in commercial photography and the creative industries since the mid-1990s. After working on both sides of the business (buying and selling), she became a rep and later a marketing consultant to commercial photographers. Her oddly-named Burns Auto Parts has worked with photographers from San Diego to Boston, Denmark to South Africa, and even Australia. With three books under her belt, she got to fulfill her life-long dream when she earned an academic scholarship to attend law school. There she studied IP and small business law in order to help photographers and other creative professionals even more. She passed the CA Bar exam on her first try in 2011 and now both consults under the Burns Auto Parts brand and offers legal services as a part of the Law Offices of Carolyn E. Wright, aka photoattorney.com.
Welcome to Community Table – the first in a series of blog posts sharing conversations held directly with our community leaders about top of mind industry issues. Community Table was formed from the collective efforts of Matt Nycz and Kate Chase of Brite Productions and Heather Elder and Lauranne Lospalluto of Heather Elder Representswith the idea that there is nothing more powerful in our industry than education.
So, of course it is no surprise that Community Table was inspired by LeBook Connections, which was founded with the vision of bringing together the worlds top reps with buyers and creative’s from the worlds leading agencies and clients for a day of sharing and connecting. It was in this context of discussing the inspirational nature of all of us coming together in LA that the idea was launched for Community Table – the timing perfect to foster an in-depth conversation about top-of-mind industry issues and to then share the results-of with our larger community via a shared blog post.
Thus invitations were sent, RSVPs rolled in, questions were drafted, a beautiful spot for lunch was reserved and a tremendously inspiring conversation ensued with topics ranging from what art buyers are looking for at Connections, who from the agencies actually attends the event, the rise of and value of pay-to-play events, one of the most effective ways for photographers to get work. The often debated email vs. direct mail discussion made an appearance as did insights into where creative’s look for inspiration and work, thoughts on photographers shooting video and over dessert, a one-word summary from each of us to describe the current state of our industry.
All agreed it that there aren’t enough opportunities to get everyone together and we can’t wait for the next one. But for now are very happy to summarize what we learned with our larger community.
And, with that, we welcome you to our table.
Each Conversation Starter was directed to one person with a general discussion ensuing. We decided this was the best way to present the discussion, to share the experience as close as possible to how it actually happened to bring you all to the table with us.
The first questions were directed to Cara Nieto from DeutschLA about how she defines a successful event, what she enjoyed the most and what was most effective for introducing her to new talent and reacquainting her with familiar talent?
CONVERSATION STARTER #1: Le Book’s Effectiveness
Cara Nieto, DeutschLA
How would you define a successful Le Book event? Do you think the event met these criteria? What elements of Connections did you enjoy the most? What were the most effective in introducing you to new talent and reacquainting you with familiar talent?
Here is how Cara got the conversation started:
“I consider LeBook successful if I discover new talent or someone new to a roster. I may have discovered someone new to a certain roster, but no one that I hadn’t seen before. I don’t get to talk with every person, so it may not be that there wasn’t any new talent there at all, but it’s obviously difficult to find that with everything one has to look at.
For the booths I did make it to, I asked to be shown one or two things I hadn’t seen before since this what I’m looking for—if someone is new to the roster or has something really new and exciting. It would be helpful if, at each booth, new talent to either their roster or the industry were highlighted.
I did like the big agency books with five or six images from each photographer, especially the big agencies. It’s daunting to ask to dig one out from the bottom of the pile.”
“I loved it. The chaos. Seeing all the portfolios stacked up all over the place,” added Jigisha Bouevrat of TBWA\Chiat\Day. “I think if you spread it out, you lose that energy, that charisma that is in there. And because of that I found five I’m excited to hopefully work with. And we do a lot of research and have people come in. And these were five who were not on my radar at all.”
“I go straight to the music stand, assuming that it must be the best of the bunch right now,” added Lisa Matthews from Team One. “It’s easier to flip through and read—it really works. So maybe that’s the idea. You switch it out every 45 minutes. When I see a stack of books in the corner, I say ‘give me three.’ The big monitors with five images from each photographer also draw you in. You can get a good idea very quickly of the artists at each rep.”
“We are also most interested in personal work,” adds Cara Nieto. “Reps could encourage their photographers to have a personal project or test for their reps to share at the event that they’re excited about and that is catered to us.
But quite honestly, what I enjoyed as much as looking at the work was seeing the reps I don’t usually see, from San Francisco and New York, and catching up with them.”
Jigisha echoed the same sentiment. “I loved that I can network not only with the agents, but that the photographers showed up at the end and that I got to see all the art producers and the other people that are part of my community that I never get to see and bond with. We tend to be and feel isolated in LA and it’s great for us to get to spend time together.
I also love that it’s on the West Coast in LA because I think we need something that elevates us and makes us part of this industry. I love that and I don’t ever want this to go away. I call it our industry day, but it should turn into an industry week.”
The second set of questions were addressed to Melanie Tongas of RPA. And in keeping with the conversation-starter spirit, it quickly turned into an animated group discussion that ranged from getting art directors to Connections and to portfolio shows, how digital and motion are impacting art director’s availability for looking at photography, and why a fashion and celebrity-driven event like Connections is relevant to a wider audience of art buyers.
CONVERSATION STARTER #2: Le Book’s Attendance
Melanie Tongas, RPA
How much does your agency encourage attendance to an event like Le Book? Do they encourage the entire creative department to attend? Did any of your creative’s attend the event? If not, why do you think that is?
Here is how Melanie got the conversation started:
Since LeBook came to LA last year, I along with Ginnie Assenza, who I co-manage the department with, encouraged our department to attend the event, as we believe it’s important to connect with the photography and advertising community, and keep abreast of the latest trends in the industry. Most of us attended last year’s event and loved it, and because of that found a way to fit it into our incredibly busy schedules this year.
Being that we’re a predominantly automotive agency, we intentionally narrowed our focus for so many years to know the automotive reps and photographers because that’s who we were hiring and it was the best use of our time. But with a handful of growing non-auto accounts where we’re finding ourselves commissioning more fashion and celebrity photographers, the LeBook event was a perfect venue for us to meet new reps and see new talent, as much as it was to visit with those we’ve worked with over the years.
As art producers it’s our job not only to source out the right talent for any particular project, but to keep expanding our talent library with new talent. That’s part of what this event is all about. It’s about seeing who’s out there so if we have an automotive project that requires some fashion, we’ll know who’s out there.”
Freelance art producer, Jill Hundenski said that their responsibilities have expanded as well. “We have to stay on top of who is shooting print and motion. Art Directors come to us to ask who is doing both.”
“I feel like LeBook should also really be targeting the digital and print producers because we are crossing media. Maybe broadcast too, but definitely digital and print,” suggested by Jigisha and echoed by Lisa Matthews, “Integrated production is the new buzzword. Le Book should grow it into an option.”
“Just having a couple events is not enough to draw the art directors. They need to have more to attract them,” suggested Melanie. “Successful ideas could be held throughout the week.”
“They could also attract higher attendance if it were more centrally located on the Westside,” added Cara Nieto. “They might be catering to fashion and celebrity businesses, but the agencies are on the Westside and Hollywood is the mecca in traffic.”
“So it would be nice for them to partner with someone to expand the event more,” suggested Heather. “This being their second year in LA, I’m sure they are trying to figure it out and are still learning what people are craving and need here. I think it’s recognizing the power of this week and building on it.”
“One thing to add. The events/presentations at LeBook (branded content, etc.) have nothing to do with photography,” observed Jigisha. “It’s about a different way of advertising and marketing and working with clients and so much more strategy than the creative development. If they want to get art directors there, they need to rethink the presentations. And also not do them during the day. I didn’t get to look at books until 5:30.
On another note, I would spend my money to go to NY to see the European agents at NY Connections.”
The final question of this first installment of Community Table was on the rise of Pay-to-Play events. Directed to Jigisha Bouverat of TBWA\Chiat\Day an interesting discussion developed . Some see the value outweighing any shortcomings and others felt it was somewhat unfair to photographers to pay to see them when they could simply make an appointment. All were agreed though, that those getting to know the photographer, is paramount and this is one opportunity for doing that and these events are very beneficial to emerging photographers.
CONVERSATION STARTER #3: Pay to Play Events
Jigisha Bouverat, TBWA\Chiat\Day
There is a rise in the “pay to play” events where photographers pay a fee or pay into a program that allows them direct access to creatives and or art producers. The organizers sometimes offer compensation to the reviewers in an effort to elevate the seriousness of the event and show a respect for the reviewer’s time. What is it about these types of events that are most successful and what do you feel could be improved upon? Do you see this as a positive trend and if not, why?
Here is how Jigisha got everyone thinking:
“In the past few years I’ve thought about this a lot because I’ve needed to strategize as my role as an art producer in an ad agency and as a department head. With regards to the pay-to-play events, I’ve thought about what is a conflict of interest and what is acceptable.
At first, I would get an offer to come look at and critique portfolios that came with a stipend. I knew the people putting the shows together were also charging the photographers to have their books reviewed, but I would do them. However, in the last couple of years, the books that came to me were photographers who didn’t need my critique, who were already quite successful and could call me and get a showing
Acknowledging that the pay-to-play events present a valuable opportunity to emerging photographers, Jigisha continued, “Then alternatively, there have been other reviews I’ve done for beginner and emerging books where I could be constructive and helpful. In this case, my time was worth it for them, if the photographer uses it as a critique to make their book better.”
Based on an evaluation of how much each side gets out of it, Jigisha now only participates when she feels it is not a conflict of interest. “I made the decision not to participate in events where the caliber of photographer is good enough to come in to my agency and be seen. But I will participate in the ones where I can use my experience to help them and they can maybe do a little more work and see me at my agency the next time and not have to pay.”
Several art buyers however highlighted the value of actually meeting with photographers, “Personality is huge,” added Jill Hundenski. “If the creative call goes downhill, I take them off the list. And on that same note, if you have 15 minutes with a photographer, you can really delve into what they love working on and get a better understanding of who they are, more so than looking at their book or hearing from their rep.”
“I find the pay-to-play events successful because I have the chance to meet with new photographers and I love one-on-ones with photographers,” confirmed art buyer Andrea Mariash of David & Goliath. “I’ll go into a portfolio show and everyone is standing around the photographer trying to figure out what they have coming up that they could use them on. It absolutely makes a difference.”
And echoing what we often hear from art buyers, PattiO’Halloran of The Designory summed it up with “Yes, it’s always good to meet the photographers because you may end up spending a week with them.”
Be sure to tune in next week to sample the Main Course of our meeting where we will be addressing Marketing over the Years and the ever present Emailer Controversy.
I have known Steven Currie for years and I can say with confidence that he is a top notch producer. Nothing flusters him, not even the weather – or lack there of. He is resourceful, creative and one of the best problem solvers out there. So, when he sent me the post he wanted to submit for the blog, I was not surprised that he chose to write about producing in the snow during one of the warmest winters in history.
Here is what Steven has to say.
“Talking about production on snow related projects seems ironic during one of the warmest winters in United States history. But our clients have needs and it’s our job to fulfill them. I have learned over the years that there are four key aspects to working on or in snow. While they seem obvious, they are crucial to the success of the shoot.
Working in snow takes 25-50% more time than working on dry land. Let me repeat, working in snow takes 25-50% more time than working on dry land. Whether it’s transportation, lighting, catering, communication, safety or simply walking from point A to point B, it just takes more time. Managing a client’s expectations regarding this is imperative.
Park the SUV, you are going to have to find another way around. Whether it’s a snow cat, snow mobile, helicopter, dog sled, skis, or in the case of shooting Simon Dumont for Oakley (Blake Jorgenson Photographer) hiking 1,000 feet straight up to the top of Highlands Bowl at 12,000 feet for that top of the world look. (It’s amazing how many agency and clients pass on the opportunity to observe this kind of shot.) If you can utilize a snow cat, it’s the most efficient. You can move 12 people and equipment comfortably and utilize it as your motor home once you reach your location. But keep in mind cats go about 10 miles an hour, so when you need to get to that location that’s “only” 20 miles away, realize it’s going to take …. more time. Snowmobiles are much quicker, but moving 1 passenger at a time is not efficient. They are better utilized for short hauls to move things around the location, not for transporting crew long distances. But If money’s no object go with the Helicopter, it’s just cooler.
Whether it’s avalanche danger, moving machines, or the extreme conditions, it’s safest to have someone solely concentrating on everyone’s safety, and not distracted by another role. Wherever your location, more than likely you will be assigned someone for your safety in extreme conditions. Most resorts will assign you a patroller, a heli or cat operation who will have someone solely watch for the safety of the crew. If they don’t, ask for one.
As far as safety goes, be sure to remember that in order to find snow you are more than likely at a high altitude and it’s going to be cold. It is important to realize that altitude equals dehydration. So, if you can only carry one thing with you, make it water. Most clients and agencys seem to come from sea level (where it’s safe and warm) so when they come to the snow and altitude, their bodies need time to adjust. Altitude sickness is simply dehydration. So have plenty of water on hand and constantly remind people to drink it. More than any type of production, I have “lost” more crew/agency to altitude sickness. Trust me, it is not pretty.
Because of the particular places that snow falls, permissions are usually more complex than our friendly summer counterparts. Most US ski resorts sit on Forest Service land, so it’s not enough to just clear things with the resort. More than likely you’ll need a Forest Service Permit. And since it’s the Department of Transport’s job to keep the roads clear and you are trying to showcase a cars capability on snow, you are more than likely going to have to use private property. If you see a road with snow on it, more than likely it’s not public. Local scouts will know where the snow is and who to speak with to get access. In rare cases you’ll find snow on public roads and it will save money if you can find them.
And finally, if you can’t find the snow, make it! There are many options for creating a snowy effect in your image. They are usually very costly and it takes more …. Time! (You’re getting the idea.) The most effective way to make it look cold is a snow flake filled sky, but who can schedule a shoot day around a forecast for snow? There are several products that will make it snow on a clear day. I find the most effective to be a bio degradable starch product that can be blown with fans. It falls to the ground slowly, making it look like Christmas in Norway.
Over my 10 years of living in the mountains, I’ve really enjoyed the challenge of working in and on the snow. Some of my most memorable projects have been working in the white stuff. So for a few more months, until we get our feet back on the ground and back to the “easy productions”, don’t be intimidated by the thought of shooting on snow. Just put a little more time in you plan.”
Thank you Steven for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us. If you would like contact him directly or see what else he has worked on, please link to his site: stevencurrie.net.
Andrea Flaherty gives freelance a good name. Not only is she a freelance art buyer, but a freelance producer and project manager as well. She has partnered with clients such as Venebles Bell & Partners, MRM Worldwide and Pottery Barn to name a few. And, her client list is long having worked on some creative favorites such as Audi of America, HBO and Microsoft. Knowing her experience, we were honored that she contributed to our Solving Mysteries series. Thank you Andrea.
How do you search for photography nowadays? I keep a fairly extensive ‘library’ of bookmarked websites that’s organized by city and specialty. I typically search there first and then review photographers on photography agent’s websites. I also post on an art producer’s online forum if I am having difficulty sourcing a really specific style. It’s a great resource.
Where do you find inspiration? I enjoy reading Communication Arts and seeing the types of photography ads that are being produced around the globe. And, starting this year, I will be attending student shows at Academy of Art College and CCA as well. It’s a good way to find up and coming talent.
Which outside events do you find most useful for finding photographers? When I worked as a full-time employee at ad agencies, I would attend the portfolio shows. As a freelancer I attend – APA shows or any type of portfolio show or social event that brings together art buyers and photographers together.
What are photographers doing lately to stand out from their competitors? I always think it’s good when a photographer accompanies his/her rep to agency portfolio shows. The art directors and other creatives viewing the portfolios really enjoy speaking with the artists about their work. It’s a good way for the photographer to make a connection with the people at the agency that play a big part in selecting photographers.
Currently I work freelance, so I am not doing portfolio shows or on the receiving end of photographer’s and agent’s marketing efforts. I was at an APA event where a local photographer did a presentation on himself and his work. I believe he started booking the presentation at ad agencies in lieu of a portfolio show. It’s a different way to showcase his work and the agencies to get to know him better.
What do you wish photographers would try harder not to do anymore? Or, maybe do less often? That’s a tough question. I think photographers should shoot and showcase what they know and love. I fully support the creative evolution of photographer. I think it’s great that a landscape photographer may want to explore shooting portraiture. But I think some photographers try to show too wide a range of ‘specialties’ in their books in an attempt to cover their bases and obtain more work. In my experience each ad campaign calls for a unique look and feel and specialty be it lifestyle, still life, portraiture etc. As a producer I need to know that the photographer I hire lives and breathes his specialty, because they will be collaborating with the art director on set. Photographers are hired for their expertise and the agencies rely on this heavily. The more diversified a book, the less I trust that the photographer is an expert in all types of imagery that they are showing.
What does your client value most from a photographer? Does that differ from what you value? And, has that changed over the years? In my experience clients value competence from a photographer. They want to know that their money is being well spent. Even though a client agrees with the agency that a photographer is well suited to shoot a particular ad or campaign, they always worry about the details. And most of the worry comes from inexperience. “Will he/she be able to get all of our shots each day? Will he/she be able to elicit the expressions we need?” An early client pre-pro meeting typically sets their mind at ease.
As a producer, I also feel that the photographer’s competence is extremely important. Equally important to me are the photographer’s personality and professionalism. Let’s face it, some clients are difficult. I need to know that the photographer I hire is going to be patient, friendly, and professional during the shoot. I can’t run the risk of hiring someone with a huge ego or that hates working with people that may snap at the client.
In my experience these needs have not changed over the years.
To learn more about Andrea Flaherty, please link here.
I have worked with Sady Callaghan for years on a variety of productions and she has never let down any of our photographers or our clients. She is unflappable, professional and a fun person to have on set. I love that when someone throws us a curve ball, Sady is always the voice of reason and has the perfect solution.
So it was no wonder when Mother Nature sent a dust storm her way she steered the production in a way that got the shot AND came in under budget. Only Sady.
When I asked her to share her story, here is what she had to say about it.
“When Andy Anderson called me to produce The Richard Group’s new campaign for RAM trucks, I was thrilled. The idea of shooting in the Wild West was really exciting to me; especially because of the locations.
Of course, there was a quick turn around – isn’t everything nowadays? We needed to find 6 very complicated locations in very remote areas. So, knowing that the back bone of a good photo shoot is good scouting, we hired the best. We called Joe Wolek and Steven Currie, shared the vision with them and told them to “just find it.” To do so, they drove thousands of miles through Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. They of course found amazing locations.
Well, as we all know, an amazing location doesn’t guarantee great weather. The closer we got to shooting the more worried we became about the elements. Parts of Colorado were still covered in snow and a lot of other areas were still in spring mode: no trees and no greenery. Challenging but doable.
What we were not prepared for was the DUST. I have called a few weather days in my time for the usual suspects; storms, rain, fog and snow, but that was the first time that we had to call a weather day for 80 mph winds.
The first day of our shoot there were 60 mph hour winds. Andy wanted to power through and simply said, “We can do it.” We bought shovels, protective coverings for the equipment and outfitted everyone in goggles and hankerchiefs to cover their faces. The crew braved the elements and after digging a couple of people out of the sand and waiting patiently for breaks in the storm. We got our shot. It was great day for a shower.
We were not as lucky on the second day. The wind was so ferocious and the sand so painful that we could barely leave the hotel. It was just too dangerous to shoot so we called a weather day.
Even though it was a no brainer to postpone the day, we were sensitive to the fact that weather days are expensive and the client was worried. So, Andy and I devised a new plan. We rearranged the entire schedule; including talent and locations, so that we could still finish on time. It was no small feat, but it was worth it. In doing so we were able to get all the shots AND still come in under budget.
Needless to say, everyone was happy and went home with some great stories from the desert.
So, if you are considering shooting in the Wild West anytime soon, consider these inside tips.
1. Stalk your location owners. Be creative and resourceful. Many people do not expect a scout to call them and will have no idea what you are talking about. In one instance, we hired someone to stake out a house night and day to get permission to shoot. In another, I called seven different levels of management to get approvals for a fertilizer plant. They were puzzled as to why we wanted to shoot there!
2. Call the Navajo Film Commission every three hours. There is no sense of urgency in the desert.
3. Bring lots of cash. You don’t know who you are going to have to pay. Our scout warned us that different Navajo families owned different parts of the land. I had a couple of families in the motor home every day – and they would only take cash!
4. Hire a great stylist. Sourcing things in the wild west is very difficult. We brought along Colleen Hartman and she managed to pull 2000 lbs of railroad ties, antique barrels, sheet rock and large machinery out of her magic bag of tricks.
5. Hire a great local guide. The Navajo Nation requires productions to have a guide with them at all times. Sisco was our street scout and our secret weapon. He told us where to buy beer in a dry state and he dug our assistant out of sand storm. His brother was our caterer. We kept it all in the family.
6. Be prepared for anything. There are lots of surprises out there. That’s what make our job so much fun.
7. Appreciate your crew and your client. We had a fantastic team on this shoot – and could not have pulled this off it we didn’t all work together as a team. Everyone from the PA to the client were crucial to making it all happen smoothly.
To learn more about Sady’s production magic, visit her website.