Brand Value vs Execution Value

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But I can also think of some jobs in the last couple of years which used photography as an incidental part of the ad. For the photographers it was just executional, it was not particular, no style was employed, it was not special. There was nothing creative about it. And yet, arguably, we still pay the same type of fee and usage rates for this type of photography- is this sustainable? I think it might be delusional to think that in these cases, your creative effort has value that you will be able to retain against the tide of easy access to high resolution cameras and distribution methods.

via HeatherMortonArt buyer.

There Are 10 Comments On This Article.

  1. I am so over art buyers with little actual photographic talent hypothesising about stuff they have no technical knowledge of or empirical evidence to back up their position.

    Art buyers are the absolute enemy of professional commercial photographers. By and large they are in league with ad agencies. They are dependent upon agencies. I want to vomit every time I see a so called ‘art buyer’ attempt to align themselves with photographers.

    Agencies want to control the ‘creative direction’ of ad campaigns precisely because that is where the profit margin is. The moment you can isolate the ‘photography’ as a line item in the expense column you get a race to the bottom. This is what agencies want. They want to ‘create ideas’ take the lion share of the client budget and isolate photography as a ‘technical expense’ in production.

    Art buyers are like the little pawns of agencies. Their entire existence is about ‘pushing down’ expectations of photographers that their ‘value’ is creative. There is NOTHING more creative than taking bullshit airy fairy ideas concocted inside an ad agency and facilitating that vision by marrying that which is physically and technically possible with the original concept.

    EVEN WHEN ART BUYERS THINK ITS “EASY” AND “SIMPLE” THERE IS A HUGE AMOUNT OF CREATIVE ENDEAVOR PUT INTO EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF WORK BY A PHOTOGRAPHER FOR A COMMERCIAL PLACEMENT.

    If you are a vibrant creative photographer pushing out bodies of work that lend themselves to commercialization and ‘corporate interpretation’ then pitch yourself direct to clients. Sit down and look at your work and assess types of companies that may be suited to your work and go after them. Pitch them. Make clients demand their agency works with you. IT IS DOABLE.

    And for god sake ignore just about anything that comes out of the mouth of an ‘art buyer’. They want to be the gatekeeper just as their superiors in the agencies want to be the ultimate gatekeeper to corporate budgets in advertising. They dont want photographers anywhere near the ‘creative fee’ component of a clients advertising budget.

    Art buyers can kiss my arse. Never be afraid to tell an art buyer to ‘jam it’ if they continuously try to convince you that you provide no creative input in the production of any image you make.

    Dealing with art buyers is like dancing with the devil. Necessary at times but if you cut them out of the picture dont be afraid to do so.

    • @Dan,

      Not all ABs are the same. Just like other humans, or any other profession. The first AB I worked with in the 90′s saved my @ss! I had made some errs on billing and production costs. She was wise enough to see the problems and told me to redo the paperwork with certain changes. This saved me a big chunk of change, and allowed me to create and complete the job.

      Funny thing though. The CD & ADs concepts didn’t fly! I had to show them why the ideas wouldn’t communicate well before we got into full swing. Fortunately they accepted the feedback and the project went well. In this case (my first shoot with a big ad agency) the AB was the most competent person on the project. YMMV.

  2. I agree! Licensing of photography should be priced according to use as well as artistic content. Value in a photograph is one of the things that should effect the price for a particular use. If it has no real artistic value or doesn’t draw attention of the viewer it shouldn’t command the same price as a well thought out and executed photograph. That should be common sense. But then if it has no value why use it.

  3. Shoot it yourself then and after it fails a few times and reshoots are in order again, hire a photographer. You want incidental photography, go to flickr. If it’s easy, you do it.

  4. Hey guys, Heather here. Please note: 1. that there is a whole other part to the post that Rob excerpted and I’d love to hear your feedback when you’ve read the entire article. And 2. I didn’t say this work was easy- believe me, as per Dan’s point, if agencies could have an intern shoot the campaign themselves, they’d do it in a heartbeat. But, as we all know (and should be over by now), there are many places to find cheap imagery.

    Look, I’d much rather see you get paid well for this type of work then do an agency a “favour” (lower fees) thinking that maybe you’ll get something for your book. Absolutely charge good money for the execution (your time, your gear, your schooling, your ability to do it all on command, the usage) but it’s not the same kind of value that you see in brand-building photography.

    And Dan is right- go and pitch yourselves directly to the client. Some agencies are totally falling behind in making work that really speaks to the new consumer. I’ve heard many stories of photographers sharing their ideas, leveraging the possibilities of the new gear (a spot where professional photographers can make a huge leap ahead of the flickr shooter) with the client and getting enthusiastic responses, jobs etc.

    Oh, but be sure to ignore anything that I say- I’m just an Art Buyer.

  5. “but it’s not the same kind of value that you see in brand-building photography. ”

    If you buy a steak, then feed it to your dog, should you still have to pay for the steak? Well maybe not so much; dog food has less value.

    Why do you think the great photographers quit/have quit doing commercial shoots?

    What should an art buyer do? Buy Art. What shouldn’t he/she do? Anything else.

  6. Photography is not the most creative form of expression: granted. Many pictures are incidental in an ad: granted. Many pictures are executional: granted.

    If this is what you are looking for, then just go for stock photography. The prices are reasonable. Don’t forget, though, that execution requires skills that non-photographers don’t have (no matter how expensive the camera you buy and how many hours you spend on photoshop). These skills alone justify the price.

    There are really two markets in photography. Some pictures, will never be found in a stock library. For these, you will need photographers with more than executional abilities. Art buyers are mistaken when they think that they should manage the creative process; if only because most of them have very little understanding of creativity (art buyers are hired to make cost-effective decisions, to fulfill a brief not to engineer creative choices).

    In an ideal world, art buyers would be buying ready-to-wear photography; magazine editors, advertising creatives would be commissioning haute-couture photography.

    Let’s not fool ourselves, though: in any business relationship, there will be a negotiation on prices. It’s normal; almost healthy, even when it is mindlowingly annoying!

  7. I think to get the most out of Heather’s point we have to think of Executional Value and Brand Value (or artistic value) as being present in every shot to varying degrees. Her point is exactly the same as what I’ve read on this blog and others about product differentiation and creativity.

    The bottom line: Bring value to the shoot; put as much of yourself into the product so when they hire YOU they get YOU and not just a guy with a camera.

  8. @Bruce DeBoer, I think you said it well!

    I think if a photographer is worried about his existence then some attention needs to be given to his photographic artistic voice and move it forward. You can’t rest on your laurels. That why its work and you get paid for it.

    Let the creativity flow!

  9. @Dan,

    Not all ABs are the same. Just like other humans, or any other profession. The first AB I worked with in the 90′s saved my @ss! I had made some errs on billing and production costs. She was wise enough to see the problems and told me to redo the paperwork with certain changes. This saved me a big chunk of change, and allowed me to create and complete the job.

    Funny thing though. The CD & ADs concepts didn’t fly! I had to show them why the ideas wouldn’t communicate well before we got into full swing. Fortunately they accepted the feedback and the project went well. In this case (my first shoot with a big ad agency) the AB was the most competent person on the project. YMMV.