W+K Art Buyer

- - Working

Just watched a video over at PhotoShelter (here) via the Strobist (here) that was taken at one of their town hall meetings where Marni Beardsley, Director of Global Art Buying at Weiden and Kennedy talks about the photography business from her perspective.

It starts out a little slow and takes an hour to watch but it’s loaded with good stuff.

I really enjoy hearing other photo professionals corroborate my thoughts about the industry and so I wanted to highlight some of the points she makes that I agree with.

1. She hates micro stock. It’s crap.

2. Cold calls suck. I’ve always hated getting a cold calls and they don’t really get you any work.

3. Email is the best way to communicate.

4. Promo cards still work.

5. All that matters is the photography. Book, promo, email, website, coffee shop wall, magazine and whatever medium you can think of it’s all about the photography. Marketing matters little. If a creative finds a great photograph on Flickr she’s not afraid to go get it.

6. She loves Terry Richardson.

7. Treat people fairly and don’t work with assholes.

8. If you don’t support photographers and advocate for great photography we’re all out of a job.

9. Editorial and personal projects keep your work fresh.

10. General every day job frustrations like creatives asking for photographers who won’t work with us or looking for stupid concept stock photos or being asked to put shoots together last minute with a tiny budget.

Thanks for posting the videos Photo Shelter.

There Are 27 Comments On This Article.

  1. Slapped Up Side The Head

    I totally agree. I watched the video last night, in the middle of the night. Had seen links to it, but never got around to viewing it. Yes, it starts slow, so be patient, but then, you truly begin to feel her passion, and her clarity of vision about the work, and then it begins to lower the boom on you.

    Funny how you’re just living your life, looking for things that have value and have impact, and then something as seemingly mindless as a PhotoShelter video just absolutely blows your ship out of the water. It was just an excellent reminder to clear your slate of all the crap that gets in the way of doing work that you feel strongly about.

    On the flip side, the Chase Jarvis video in the same series is just totally unwatchable. If only his pictures were backed up by his Tony Robbins view of the world, he’d be fine, but uh, it’s not. Again here, it goes to prove, it’s about the work — not about the hype, or the marketing.

  2. I agree with almost everything in the video, except the jab at marketing. Now, while I am in a totally different segment, let me just say you have to get your name out there. Over and Over. And Over some more. You don’t need to shout it, just make sure everybody hears.

    And –

    Photoshelter Rocks. I’ve been with them since the beginning.

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  3. Just wondering what you had wrong with the Jarvis video? I personally think his work is great and enjoy hearing his perspective on the industry. Can you elaborate? I’m just trying to tap into your point of view. Thanks!

  4. @katia: exactly. the, can i have a job calls from photographers i don’t know.

    @Eric: i agree about getting your name out it’s just the idea that the photography always trumps the marketing. always.

  5. Not to hijack the comments, I sort of agree that the chase jarvis segment left me less than thrilled-obviously he can do what he wants, but I have to wonder about his financial model-for example, the hell week he described where he shot 5 ideas in a week, with a crew and models-he said he paid for that himself-so I am wondering if that means he paid the crew at their rates or if his staff was taking a percentage off-what I don’t understand is that this was new work to show to get work? or was it work that he will put into stock to try to recover costs and eventually turn a profit? He was hazy about how much of a return he was seeing.
    My concern was mainly with the crew, it is one thing for jarvis to self fund work he intends to market and sell, another thing for him to get a lot of people to work for free or reduced rates like an indie movie for example, as a way to secure paying work. The problem being, cutting the costs of stock productions in this way to be competitive is just another way of driving to the bottom-the point where there is no money in stock even because people will do it for free to get other work, kind of like how editorial has become…There is no way to earn a living in editorial because the bulk of the assignments go to repped photographers who take their cut of a tiny fee, and the rest gets plowed into expenses, vendors, locations and an advertising-style look. Used to be editorial was called that because it wasn’t as “slick” as advertising. Now everything looks the same. The whole charm of editorial as something a little more off the cuff and real has vanished into a completely stylized and retouched reality.

    sorry I have gone on too long.

    great blog.

  6. Robert -

    I also wondered about Chase’s hell week. What was the point? Stock? Portfolio work? So I asked him about it, and I may be getting some details wrong, but basically he said that he had a big week-long commercial shoot booked that week, and it was canceled at the last minute. He got 50% of his fee for the cancellation, which was still a good sum of money, and suddenly he had an unexpected week free with some cash and a crew he’d already booked. So they brainstormed ideas for how to make something productive of the situation, and “hell week” was what they came up with. I got the impression everyone was paid.

    I still don’t know what the shots were for specifically, but I think we’ve all had moments where we get an idea in our head for a shoot, and it just won’t go away until we actually take the photos, even if we have no intended use for them at the time. I suspect something like that was at play here.

  7. Really interesting point of view. I am an art director (and yes I get the cold calls too).

    Now, my husband is a photographer and we work on marketing strategies together. I think the cold calls are important if they are done right. He is not reped and can send many emails – but I find especially in NYC – out of sight out of mind – is all too very real. You have to put a voice to a name and make it personal on some level. One thing he does, he only cold calls places he really wants to work and can see himself as a good fit.

    I had a photographer call me the other day – I was meeting with designers and had the call put into VM. Excited ONE freakin’ photographer followed up, out of the 20 or so ‘see my new work’ emails I get a day. I listened to the VM. It was an assistant!?? Some young, intern/assistant making his cold calls for him. CRAPPY. Really crappy. I wanted to call back and ask the intern/assistant how this photographers work would fit with the work and clients our agency was currently working on. If she could answer that – I would have to buy her a steak dinner. I never called and tortured the intern/assistant. But this photographer should be ashamed. One thing to do it for a portfolio delivery confirmation, but a sales call? An assistant is not a rep.

    The number of impressions on your brand has to be high – people won’t remember you until they have seen/heard the name until after about 3 times. And you are lucky after that. If you send out 100 emails and 10 people open it and look, you are above national advertising stats. I like mailers, like the art buyer, I also hate the tree killer huge-o ‘I want to see my own image printed so big I have to fold it to mail it’ promos. Save a buck or two. Donate it to a rain forest or something productive.

  8. humorously: to the wk art buyer who feels guilty throwing out mailers…Really? You have problem with the 5000 copies of a printed piece designed carefully with beautiful photography and printed on the highest quality paper, really? And in the same breath you can be talking to NIke about their latest bus shelter advertising, or designing a new box for their jogging shoe-really? Shoes that they sell millions of ? Really? huh. I see, as long as you don’t throw the paper out and someone else does somewhere else it’s ok. Really? So you take a dim view of photographers who “waste” paper this way. Really….

    and before you say it I am not bp…
    I just find ethics are never well thought out…

  9. anytime a guy shows up with a DJ, and the music is so loud that you can’t even hear the speech, you’ve got trouble. and then, the next big signal is any guy who introduces himself by saying that he “splits his time between two cities”, and one of them is in europe, you just know you’ve got a bullshitter. you just know. time to look for the close button…

  10. PE: First, just got introduced to your blog recently from Allen at Photoshelter – love love love it. Second, I love the dialogue here on this post – open and honest. Third, allow me to try to answer some questions and respond to a few comments:

    @Slapped: Your comment that “it’s totally about the pictures” is something that I totally agree with. In fact, I said that in the “unwatchable” video. Since you weren’t able to get thru it all, I’ll paraphrase frome the Q&A part at the end – I think someone asks, “how much is it about the pictures and how much is it about the marketing of the pictures and the photography and the photographer.” My answer was 99% pictures, 1% other stuff. So we’re in the same boat – I couldn’t agree with you more. And FWIW, I am doing work that I feel strongly about. I don’t expect you to see my perspective, but I respect yours.

    -@Robert: RE: my financial model.
    1)this financial model is just for personal work it’s not my financial model for my entire biz.
    2)surprisingly, it works, or I’d have stopped doing it years ago.
    3)The basics are this: I like to create personal work because it allows me to take the kind of photos that I want to take and get jobs that interest me. I’m told over and over by those who hire me that these personal work photos are interesting and engageing. Repeatedly they are the ones that get commented or highlighted by art buyers when they’re in the search for someone to shoot their next campaign and they call me. Those images help me get booked. In my experience, showing another ad campaign I’ve done for some large company doesn’t carry as much weight or interest in those seeking to hire photographers as does a photo of a ninja stuck to a wall, or an urban dancer in mid air, or someone pointing a 45 caliber handgun at someone else’s head.
    4)RE: your concerns on crew costs and how my shoots might effect the industry. All the people I work with, whether in the videos or not, are getting paid real money. Most are full time employees. My employees are all competitively salaried and receive medical benefits. They also profit share on a percentage of total annual revenue AND have a company paid IRA, where I match their contribution. Any contract labor people appearing (third or forth assistants, stylists, models, etc) are all getting their normal day rates.
    5)I look at recouping the costs for these shoots on in three places: thru landing jobs (see #3 above), thru stock sales at some point down the road, or thru fine art print sales. And a report: all these shoots have paid for themselves. As a matter of good business, if they didn’t, I’d change my model.

    -@David: your recollection of the details are correct. And true, I get ideas of photos I want to make and I go make them.

    -@westcoast: thanks for the feedback on the DJ – I’ll chalk it up. I’m disappointed that you felt the music muddled my message and was too loud. It was supposed to make the evening more fun, not worse. I’ve had that DJ accompany my speaking engagements as often as possible since 2000. Most of the feedback I get on having another artist perform live during my presentation is really positive (I’d say 10 positive comments to every 1 negative). I like collaboration. RE: your bullshit meter getting tipped by my keeping two households… There actually is a point to mentioning that, and it has nothing to do with bullshitting: I get a lot of questions from people wanting to know where I’m based because they either a) want to hire me and need that info (see APhotoEditors funny and smart post about LA or NY Pick One) , or b)want to know about cultural or geographic influences to my work. That’s why that bit was in my talk. And FWIW, we’re considering moving out of Paris simply to cut down on family travel. I love it there and find it culturally and soulfully enriching, but I fly enough as it is, and it’s hard work keeping up two households. I’ll post to my blog if there are any address changes anytime soon.

    -@PE: thanks for the great blog. I really enjoy your writing style and topics a lot.

  11. Chase, kudo’s to you for your eloquent response and the link to this completely ridiculous criticism of you.. I’m always amazed at the ability of internet commenters to make wild assumptions (about your financial model for example) or just anonymously (cowardly) criticize another person or colleague for something so lighthearted or fun (eg. Dj Sandman).

    I think some people, very simply need to go back quite a few years and have a sit down chat with their mother or father – maybe a school teacher – and learn about keeping their mouth shut if they don’t have anything nice to say about someone, or failing that – not assuming things.

  12. This reminds me of why dialog is sooo important. Good or bad, feedback is important to help a person improve or question their current skills. Nothing is more useless than a “Great job” or “You suck!” kind of comment.

  13. That video of Marni Beardsley is truly unwatchable. She spend half and hour bragging and moaning about her job that really suck when it came from someone who is a Director of Global Art Buying.
    Fortunately Chase Jarvis video provides some inspiration and new prepective.

  14. I personally think that you people who find Chase’s video “unwatchable”, are full of crap. Is it that you don’t understand what Chase is saying, or maybe you have no sense of inspiration?!

    I find it really ridiculous that this blog is making assumptions (agreeing with Colin) and with that said, I find this blog no longer credible really.

  15. @Shelby: stick with this blog – it’s credible and can be a great resource. APhotoEditor can be fun and entertaining too. Remember, just like my occasional keynote talks – you should take things that reasonate with you to heart, and things that don’t with a grain of salt.

  16. I will disagree and say that Chase Jarvis’ video was very watchable. In his speech he said that he recouped the money spent on hellweek by getting booked from people seeing those images.

    A photographer called Mike Colon does something sort of similar. He does this crazy shot of the wedding party by tossing his camera up in the air with the timer on to get a shot of everyone. The picture is awesome but what is even better is people there tell all their friends what this crazy photographer did and he gets word of mouth referrals. Chad Jarvis does the same thing by taking photos that you don’t usually see…

    This link will show Mike Colon tossing his camera into the air:
    http://www.cutframetv.com/view_video.php?viewkey=8201c7c76cb71fa1da43

  17. Correction: I got the name wrong, not Mike Colon but MIKE LARSON is the one who tosses the camera. The part about the camera toss starts about 50 seconds into the clip and at 1:30 you see the photothat was taken.

  18. As if you can’t already tell, Chase Jarvis has a cult following (I know, I meet his blog subscribers everywhere I go… and I mean everywhere, I met one in NZ) All should be warned… tread softly or you might have a crowd chasing you with pitchforks. I’ll be holding one of them.

  19. I think Chase’s video was very interesting, clearly the liveliest and most informative, imaging-wise, of the entire video series. It made being a photographer look fun and exciting.

    Hey, maybe Chase could star in a video series. Something like Heroes, except with Chase chasing time-traveling indestructible ninjas with his big old Nikon D2X …

  20. I really enjoyed the Chase Jarvis interview. He said a lot of things that I personally needed to hear. I’m just now getting my feet wet in this business and to be perfectly honest, micro stock and industry changes scared the mess out of me before watching the video. But now I have a much better outlook on both.
    Point is, the Jarvis video was very helpful and inspiring to ME as a photographer, and it helped me re-aline my sights as an artist. The point he made about shooting personal work or your portfolio will look like what everyone else wanted you to shoot is valid and something I will always keep in mind (among other things learned from the interview). He’s got a great worth ethic that runs counter to the current ‘get to the top fast’ culture we live in. Great, great, video.
    Certainly worth the watch, in my opinion.

    _Nathanael Gassett

  21. I wouldn’t call myself a ‘cult follower’ of anything, except maybe the let’s all do our thing & have a rad time movement?
    Though I do read quite a few blogs every day, both Chase’s & APhotoEditor among those, and I am constantly learning/evolving in the way I do business as a result.
    That doesn’t mean I take what I read verbatim, I am just becoming more informed and making decisions for myself about whether I find it relevant to myself & how I will apply that knowledge to my own business!

    I have downloaded & watched & rewatched & rewatched Chase’s Photoshelter video because I believe he really he knows what he’s on about… for me it breaks down the ‘golden unbreakable rules’ attitude and gets me excited about making photos and exploring new opportunities & methods that are not so ’101 conventional’ but will not devalue my work.

    I won’t pretend I’m super-psyched on every photo Chase makes, but I’m not super psyched on every photo I make either. Or every photo Galen Rowell or Ansell made. Actually I doubt whether Chase is even super psyched on every photo he makes, which is why we take thousands of photos a day to come up with 1 or 2 gems for a client. It’s why we don’t update our folio after every job. Someone doesn’t have to be infallible to have a credible talent & point of view!
    It is undeniable however that Chase does make photos which sell, and his business skills are IMO something to be excited (or scared?) about!
    I am massively appreciative of the effort he goes to in opening up that ‘black box’ within his own business.
    It would be foolish to pretend there is not some personal marketing value in doing this. However I think it’s the least he deserves for the education his efforts provide to photographers & photo buyers that will ultimately serve to strengthen our position as professionals.
    Again I’m not the ‘cult follower’ type but geez, credit where it’s due!

    The DJ aspect of it makes it a bit more fun and is easier to listen to than just voice. It helps keeps the talk flow & helps keep the audience engaged on a level that would be very difficult to achieve through voice alone.
    Why do you think the churches play chilled out background tunes when they make an ‘altar call’?

    It is impossible to keep everyone happy, no matter what you do someone will always hate on you for it.
    I enjoy and appreciate the banter and feedback- both positive & negative- whether I agree with it or think it’s even founded in reality, it’s great to see points of view from all camps!

  22. Is this still the original blog post?

    After re-reading some of the comments as well as my own, it seems that they (the comments) seem out of place.

    Still sticking with this blog though =)