Solving Mysteries with Sari Rowe of RPA.

sari rowe

I always love it when people let us know that they want to contribute to our blog.  And, Sari Rowe did just that.  When we saw each other at Le Book’s LA Connections event, we talked about all the different ways she could participate so I am hopeful this isn’t the last time we will hear from her.   As Senior Art Buyer at RPA she has gained a deep level of experience that she is willing to share.  Lucky us!

I thought a good way for her to introduce herself to our readers would be to write answers to our Solving Mysteries series.  Here is what she had to say.

How do you search for photography nowadays?

I use search engines like At Edge, Le Book (now that its working), and Blogs from fellow art buyers, artist, & artist of all mediums. I also look on websites and magazines like Agency Spy, Ad AgeCA, & Archive.  And, my favorite and most inspiring is to surround myself and workspace with mailers, posters, clip-outs, & postcards.  If it’s cool and you can stick a tack through it, it could be on the walls around me.  I have boxes of fun trinkets, chatzkys, things that have caught my eye throughout the years. The best is when you get a promo that has a good box you can keep. I’m old school with my Rolodex and still keep business cards in boxes, which I have many of.
Which industry events for photography do you attend and why?

I go to Le Book and events thrown by photographers and reps where you get to meet with people one on one. I try to go to the Directors Club events and Award shows. I love to go to gallery shows for all types of mediums. You never know what or who you will find. Whenever there is a photo exhibition at a museum I check them out too.  At RPA we have a show once a month where a few reps come in at the same time for a big show we call Bigger Better Portfolio show. It’s great because the entire agency is invited. This year I have noticed an increase of Art Buyer dinners thrown by reps, which in LA is great as our community is much smaller then Chicago or NYC. It’s great when you can get everyone in one room.
What are you reading online? When I’m not sucked into watching my TV shows which my husband will never let me DVR, I love looking at blogs. One article can lead you to another and then another. It’s how I find all the hidden gems these days. I love the images on Amazing Things In the World, a site I found through Facebook. They have fascinating images! I also read the Sunday newspaper and PDN online.
What are photographers doing lately to stand out from their competitors?

I have noticed that a lot of photographers are trying to incorporate footage into their reels, but that’s a whole other topic. What I’ve seen that catches my eye is a big push for natural light in life style setups. It’s the best way I can describe it. It’s amazing when you find a shooter who can make the light and the talent, flow as one. They capture a natural moment and at the same time are satisfying the staged moment created for advertising.

I also love it when you can look at an image and completely think its something else; it’s the magic of photography. One of my favorite images at the moment is by Nicolas Alan Cope.  The image is of flowers but at first glance it made me think of a painting of Dante’s painting of Inferno. The flowers and the way the light hits them makes me think of people rising to heaven and falling to hell.

© Nicholas Alan Cope

© Nicholas Alan Cope

What does your client value most from a photographer?  Does that differ from what you value?  And, has that changed over the years?

Clients want a good price, efficiency, and the right shot to sell their brand.

I value the same things and get the opportunity to do the thing I love most, producing photo shoots, negotiating the deal, collaborating with my creatives and getting to work with photographers I admire. Not to bad!!

What I have seen change the most within our industry, budgets are smaller and usage request are almost always expected to be unlimited in some way. You can make it all work out If you’re savvy and can work with your creatives in a way to bring their visions to life!

Jason Lau, Senior Art Producer at Team One, Solves Photography Mysteries

Jason Lau, Senior Art Producer at Team One is one of the nicest, happiest and easiest art buyers to get to know.  Every time I see Jason he has a smile on his face and is always happy to say hello.  When I asked him for a photo to include with this post, I was not surprised when he sent this one along; with him smiling of course!

Jason was so happy to send along a submission for our Solving Mysteries series and for this we are very appreciative.
•  How do you search for photography nowadays?
I tend to use agent websites then I link to the photographers sites to see more. I use a few resources to get a new idea of what’s new out there, like “Go See” or occasionally LeBook if it’s a genre I’m not familar with. I always keep an eye out when I’m looking through magazines. It never fails to get recommendations from collueagues in the industry to get more information about new or a particular artist and how they work. Network, network, network!

•  Are you noticing any trends in photography that you find exciting?

The lastest trend that I see is that more and more photographers are shooting video. They’re learning to be more of a director and having a DP while they shoot. It’s interesting seeing artists that you’ve known for awhile translate their still photography into motion. 

•  What are you reading online?   

 I am reading Convoy.tumblr for the simple design and slick content,  – you can’t beat men’s fashion, great design, and – self explanatory! 

•  What is the last image that got your attention?

The lastest from Giles Revell! 

•  What does your client value most from a photographer?  Does that differ from  what you value?  And, has that changed over the years? 

I think having great amazing work is first and foremost. I think what can be accomplished during the shoot with the budget that is given also plays a large role as well. As we all know budgets are not the same as they use to be and the need for different content has changed over the years.   I value when an artist has a point a view, it brings much more to the table.  I love when all parties are collaborating with each other. The end results tend to be much more fulfilling!

Solving Mysteries – 5 Questions for Kellie Bingman, Art Producer at McKinney

One of the greatest parts of my job is that I get to travel around the country visiting ad agencies to meet art buyers and creatives.  I love that our goal is to go to every major market every year.  Even with that goal, there are still a few places that we have not been able to visit.  McKinney in North Carolina is one of them.

When we cannot visit,  we host Portable Shows.  This is when we send the portfolios and schedule a food delivery so that the art producer can host for us.  Although not our preference, it is a great way to show off the portfolios in places we are not able to visit.  Kellie Bingman, the VP, Art Production Supervisor, at McKinney has always been so enthusiastic in hosting them for us and for that we are grateful.  We recently asked her to submit answers to our Solving Mysteries series.

See below for what she had to share.  Thank you Kellie.

1) How do you search for photography nowadays?

My ‘go-to’ resources when I’m looking for photographers are rep websites, Workbook and PDN’s Photoserve. Occasionally I may refer to a mailer I’ve hung on to. I still get excited to find a really unique, creative, well-designed promotional piece in my mailbox.

2) Are you noticing any trends in photography that you find exciting?

Usually you can spot a trend or two but I haven’t really noticed anything new in the past few months. An old trend, and one I’d like to see change, is the frequency of being able to do shoots. There are so many amazing photographers I want to work with; I just need more occasions to do so!

3) What are you reading online?   

I’ve been spending a lot of time on Pinterest. I find all kinds of inspiration from artists who I was previously unfamiliar with. I also check out various art, photography, design and industry web sites. A Photo Editor and Feature Shoot are two I check regularly.

In addition to online “eye candy” I’m still passionate about print and I devour 20-30 magazines every month. I always jot down the names of my favorite photographers and photo stylists so that I can look them up and bookmark them when I’m back in front of the computer.

In addition, I try to stay on top of all the PDN’s, Archive and Communication Arts that pile up in my office.

4) What is the last image that got your attention?

I can’t narrow it down to just one. What’s important to me is that a photographer has a developed sense of style that offers a unique viewpoint.

5)  What does your client value most from a photographer?  Does that differ from what you value?  And, has that changed over the years?

I think most clients value a ‘good deal’, a sense of teamwork and a photographer willing to go the extra mile. These are important to me as well, but in these days of extremely tight timelines and ever decreasing budgets I’ve come to value a good producer almost as much as the photographer. The collaboration between the photographer, producer and myself to find creative solutions to make the budget and timing work is paramount.

Solving Mysteries with Freelance Art Producer Beverly Adler


Writing this blog has connected me to so many different people in our industry and for that I am very appreciative.  One of the best parts about it is that it provides a forum for the freelance community to share what they are up to and spread the word that they are available for work.  

When I recently received an email from Beverly Adler, I was reminded that she is freelance and thought it would be fun to include her in our Solving Mysteries series.  Her experiences are vast and I knew that her answers would be relevant to many of our readers. 

Beverly is someone I have known for a long time.  I can’t say exactly when we first met, but seeing that so much of what we do is over the phone and email, I am not sure it matters.  What I enjoy most about her is that she is professional, friendly, and always willing to help.

For those of you who don’t know Beverly, she is a freelance art producer based in New York City.   Previously, she has held the position of Director of Art Buying at G2 Branding and Design as well as Director of Art Buying at OgilvyOne Worldwide.

Here are the questions we posed to her and how she replied.

•  How do you search for photography nowadays?

Everywhere!  If I’m reading magazines that are not work related and find an interesting image, I make a note of who the photographer is.  However, I still enjoy getting emails from reps with updates on their talent as well as meeting with them when I’m freelancing at an agency.

•  Are you noticing any trends in photography that you find exciting?

This is a hard one!  Video is being incorporated quite a bit on certain accounts and I’ve enjoyed seeing motion added to still images such as in the Schiaparelli and Prada costume exhibit at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.  However, while it’s always fun seeing new trends, I feel most comfortable with photographers who are up to date with the best camera, digital and lighting equipment.

•  What are you reading online?

I read PDN online, Pro Photo Daily, Motion Arts Pro and Agency Spy,amongst other interesting blogs that find their way to me through facebook and friends.

•  What are photographers doing lately to stand out from their competitors?

That is always a hard question!  First of all, having a rep can make life so much easier when trying to get work seen by art buyers and others in the industry.  That’s not to say it’s not possible to get work without a rep!  It’s always helpful to have a go-between to help negotiate and reach especially when a photographer is away on an assignment.  Also, I’m finding that if someone’s work stands out and that they are a people person, all the better!   Buyers enjoy hearing what went on behind the scenes of a particular shots and how they were produced.  This adds some depth to their work.  It’s always good to for reps to know this when asked during portfolio reviews.

•  What does your client value most from a photographer?  Does that differ from what you value?  And, has that changed over the years?

We live in such a competitive world!  Therefore, clients usually have budgets on their minds forefront more now than ever before!   An art buyer not only has to keep budget in mind but aesthetics and creativity as well.    It is also important to stay as civil as possible during the bidding process and though other negotiations and changes that take place during a production which is easier said than done.  I find it torturous knowing how hard reps and photographers work on a bid and yet, only one will be selected in the end!  That feeling has never changed for me! The bottom line is getting the job done well and on budget.This makes for the greatest odds in getting repeat business.

If you enjoyed reading what Beverly had to say, be sure to link to the other Solving Mysteries posts by other art buyers.

Which art buyer thinks word of mouth is the number one way to get known?

© Leigh Beisch –

Julia Cunningham, a freelance art buyer in the Chicago area and contributor to our Diary of a Freelance Art Buyer series once again was happy to share with us her insight into our industry.  When we reached out to her to see what she thought of our top five questions she did not hesitate to let us know what she was thinking.  Once again, thank you Julia for taking the time to contribute!

• How do you search for photography nowadays?

Word of mouth is #1. I’ll follow up with Workbook, AtEdge, or PDN to jog my memory and maybe to find someone new.  I also reference ads and editorial work in magazines and find out who shot them.  Archive is always fun to peruse as well.

•  Where do you find inspiration?

Talking with my friends who are in creative fields, I like to hear about what they’re reading, what design styles they’re drawn to, who they’re working with.  I also love to travel – something as simple as observing ads on the streets and subways, the design of a hotel lobby, a restaurant’s décor – they all generate ideas.

•  What are you reading on-line?

Other than reading Heather Elder’s blog? (thanks Julia!!) Usually articles my friends will send me or things they’ll post to Facebook that I feel are relevant to what I do.  Guilty pleasure – OMG and I do have a tendency to be lured in by the Yahoo! headlines, to view the editorial style photography of course.

•  What are photographers doing lately to stand out from their competitors?

Anyone who offers to do comp work is someone I’ll remember – we all know how those jobs can be.  I think it’s a good idea for photographers to meet with one on one with buyers and creatives.  It’s nice to get to know the person along with their work. Offering video is also becoming commonplace.  So many clients want the option, and they want to tie it in with a photo shoot. They need a photographer that can do both or have the resources to make it happen.

•  What does your client value most from a photographer?

The creativity in their approach to producing a job.  Budgets are tight; a photographer’s willingness to go the extra mile with little money is a super star in the client’s eyes.

•  Does that differ from what you value?

It’s doesn’t, I feel the same way.  Quite honestly an engaging personality goes a long way too.

•  And, has that changed over the years?

Sure, competition is fierce and clients expect MUCH more for less.  Technology and social media has obviously changed the way we approach projects too.  I think this is a true statement for everyone behind the lens, in front of the lens, and even those standing at the craft service table.

Thank you Julia!  If you want to learn more about Julia, be sure to link to her site.

Solving Mysteries with Ken Zane of Digitas Health

© Chris Crisman

For those of you who do not know Ken Zane, you need to meet him.  If you do, you will become instant friends.  He is not only great at what he does, but he is fun to be around.  Digitas Health in Philadelphia is lucky to have him as their Senior Art Producer.  There is never a dull moment with Ken and when you are with him, you feel like you have known him for years.  When we asked him to contribute to our Solving Mysteries series, he did not hesitate.  No surprise there.

How do you search for photography nowadays?

I like to look though magazines, search online at sites such as the WorkBook and LeBook.  I also speak with other art buyers.

Where do you find inspiration?

I find inspiration almost everywhere, museums, friends, Photographers, Art, sometimes just walking down the street you will suddenly notice something that moves you.  Mostly, I get inspiration from people who are condifent and driven by their own personal vision.

What are you reading online?

I am reading Art Space, Nowness, Saatchi online, Fashionartisan; among various other sites for inspiration.

What are photographers doing lately to stand out from their competitors?  

I think a photographer’s personal vision is what makes him/her stand out.

What does your client value most from a photographer?  Does that differ from what you value?  And, has that changed  over the years?

I think we all value team work, honesty and integrity.   I also always appreciate someone who is passionate about what they do and who will go the extra mile.

Solving Mysteries with freelance art buyer Andrea Flaherty

© Kevin Twomey -

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 you reading online?  APA Forums,, Ads of the World,, various photography representative blogs including Heather Elder Represents (wink wink).

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.