This Wednesday, May 18th I will be on a panel with an Art Producer, Creative Director and Art Director at the offices of TBWA-Chiat-Day in LA to help answer the question “why we hire you.” The event is being put on by the LA chapter of APA and Andrea Stern of SternRep. More information can be found (here). I’m excited to talk about the way in which I used to choose and hire photographers and also impart knowledge gained from 3 years of blogging about the subject. The rest of the panel is strictly advertising folks (Jigisha Bouverat, Director of Art Productions TBWA\Chiat\Day; Mike Kohlbecker, Associate Creative Director/Art Director, Crispin Porter + Bogusky; Jake Kahana, Art Director, 72 and Sunny), so it will be interesting to learn about their processes and report back what I find out.
I found this story on TechCrunch about banner advertising quite interesting (here). Companies originally saw online advertising as a way to drive consumers to make a purchase, but they quickly discovered that traditional display ads yielded very few hits. The average banner ad generates 0.2% CTR (click through rate). You can see in this graphic from 2008 that while marketers still believed and wanted the internet to drive traffic they were starting to come around to the idea that creating awareness, familiarity, consideration and loyalty were just as important.
The story, written my Mark Suster a VC at GRP Partners goes on to point out that banner advertising is horrible at creating any of this awareness that advertisers seek online. The solution to this problem is integrated advertising. You don’t have to look further than The Strobist and Joe McNally to see integrated advertising hard at work in the photography industry. Savvy marketers have caught on to the value of endorsement and product placement for creating awareness and they’ve latched on to two early movers.
What really caught my attention in the story was the value of in-image advertising as a form of integrated media. GumGum a company I’ve written about before places advertising on top of images and delivers a 2x industry average CTR. Another company with Google backing called Pixazza places product advertising inside the image.
What does all of this mean for photographers? Something I’ve long argued: photos will eventually out-strip all other forms of communication online. Their ability to deliver information quickly in a crowded marketplace, makes them extremely valuable for marketing, advertising and storytelling.
“There are no more discoveries to be made,” Elisabeth Biondi tells me on the opening night of the fourth annual New York Photo Festival. “Anyone can take a picture now, so it’s forced documentary photographers to have a more personalized vision.”
I post a lot of quotes from interviews with your customers (PE’s, AB’s, AD’s) here and I wanted to point out something that’s rarely mentioned. Listen to what people say, but trust your gut and your numbers and always experiment to find things that work for you. Everyone (except experts in the survey field) asks questions that lead the interviewee to the answer they wanted in the first place and people generally give answers that are idealized. They say photographers should do X, Y and Z, but then ignore those directives when in an actual hiring situation. Here’s a great example of what I’m talking about:
You’re with Walmart. It’s 2009, and you want to do something new, something transformative, to out-innovate rival Target. You have a sense that Target is cleaner, better designed, less cluttered. Walmart aisles are crammed, packed, an infinite jumble of product.
So you’re thinking of launching an uncluttering project. Strategic. Huge. Millions of dollars. But before you make any changes, you want to float the idea by customers.
So you conduct a survey, asking customers: would you like Walmart aisles to be less cluttered? And they say, “Yes, now that you ask, yes, that would be nice.” And you check the box by “customer input” and report back, hey everyone, good news, yes, customers like the idea.
Walmart spends hundreds of millions of dollars uncluttering their stores, removing 15% of inventory, shortening shelves, clearing aisles. Yes, it’s expensive and time-consuming, but this is what customers said they wanted, so you barrel through it.
You’ll never guess what happens now. (Actually, you’ve probably already guessed, but it sounded better to say you’ll never guess.)
Sales went down. Way down. I mean waaaaaay down. I’m talking, from the beginning of that project until today, Walmart has lost over a billion dollars in sales. (Yes, billion with a “b”.) It’s actually closer to two billion dollars of sales they missed out on, and maybe more.
Needless to say, the executives in charge of the project have been fired, and Walmart is spending yet more money to return to its original, time-tested strategy of offering a huge (albeit cluttered) inventory at low prices.
What people say isn’t always the same as what they do.
“Good work comes from humility, not presumption.”
— Peter van Agtmael
“His artful eye and his sharp mind make him one of the most exciting young photographers working today.”
— Kira Pollack, Time Magazine
A story in TechCrunch EU highlights a blowup over the ToS (Terms of Service) of Twitpic the photo sharing app for Twitter that many people use to share breaking news images from their phone–images like Daniel Morel’s Haiti images and subsequent lawsuit (here) and also the first image of the plane landing in the Hudson river. TwitPic amended their terms to coincide with an announcement that they’ve partnered with news agency WENN to sell the images people post. According to thenextweb.com, “The new licensing deal ensures that users retain the copyright but by uploading photos service, the company is able to exploit the photos for commercial gain.”
The changes to Twitpic’s ToS that will impact users the most as reported by Hawke’s Bay Today are:
“…you hereby grant Twitpic a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of…” and “…after you remove or delete your media from the Service provided that any sub-license by Twitpic to use, reproduce or distribute the Content prior to such termination may be perpetual and irrevocable.”
Twitpic is not the only photo sharing app with heinous ToS’es. According to thenextweb.com:
picplz users agree to, among other things,
“the right of the service “and its affiliates a nonexclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable and fully sublicensable right to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such Content in connection with: (i) providing and promoting the Service; and/or (ii) exercising the rights granted in these Terms.”
Both stories point to MobyPicture as the solution for photographers who want to retain their rights. According to TechCrunch EU:
They’ve just now tweaked their ToS conditions thus:
All rights of uploaded content by our users remain the property of our users and can in no means be sold or used by Mobypicture or affiliated third party partners without consent from the user. This means Mobypicture will NEVER sell the rights to your shared photos and videos. Your content is yours!”
As these companies try to figure out what they can get away with and how they can become profitable it’s important for professional photographers to voice their opinion to help them understand the needs and concerns they have for using their service. It looks like deleting your Twitpic account and moving to MobyPicture is a good way to do that.
“We’re in the midst of an industrial revolution,” added Gideon Mendel. “It’s two continents colliding [still and video], and we don’t really understand what’s going on. But it feels like the first wave has already crashed – multimedia is almost a dead term today.”
In a very personal interview with VII The Magazine, photographer Ashley Gilbertson, opens up about the effects of war on soldiers and their families, himself, and the country.
If you show me one more picture of a soldier kicking in a door I’m going to blow my head off.
via VII The Magazine.
One of the biggest projects I’ve worked on, both in terms of production expenses and licensing fees, was a shoot that I estimated and produced recently for one of our Midwest photographers. Though he’s mostly known for his phenomenal portrait photography, he was asked by a major ad agency to submit a quote to shoot the print campaign for a newly rejuvenated sports car brand. The agency’s art director called the photographer after she saw an editorial project he had shot. (I love when that happens!) We later found out that not only did the photographer’s style catch their eye, but his magazine shoot actually provided a lot of the inspiration for the campaign’s concept. It goes to show that even with big agencies, there are times when the creatives are open to collaborating with photographers on concept development as well as execution.
Shoot & Licensing Needs
The process started with the photographer brainstorming with the AD to develop a clear concept, and me discussing the licensing needs with the art buyer. Then the photographer and I agreed on the production elements we’d need to bring together in order to support that concept and the way the photographer wanted to shoot it. Unlike the typical hero shots in the desert, this project was based on gritty, urban images executed in a more documentary style, with real people found on location. The cars would need to look pristine, but the personality of the campaign needed to be “fast and rough around the edges.” Given this approach, we weren’t going to have a standard shot list with comps to work from. Instead, the photographer and I planned to create (along with a location scout) a guide full of hip, young, bustling locations. That, along with a client-provided list of angles to shoot the cars from, became our literal and figurative roadmap for the shoot. The photographer and art director agreed on shooting for three days each in two different cities. The photographer planned to work with minimal lighting equipment for maximum mobility.
The client had an immediate need for 20 images, but expected to use additional images in the future. They planned on using them in a variety of ways, primarily web/social media, but also in collateral material and print ads. They asked us to quote on exclusive, worldwide use of any kind, forever. With my head firmly around what we had to do to create the pictures and how they were going to be used, I got to work on the estimate.
When the logistics of a shoot and the licensing of the images are more cut and dried, I tend to lump the creative and licensing fees together. But the more spontaneous approach to this production and the open-ended licensing needs of the client warranted a different approach. It made sense to quote the shoot days and the licensing independent of one another so we could add time or images without renegotiating the contract. So I created one estimate page detailing the creative fees and production expenses, and a separate page detailing the fees for usage.
The photographer and I settled on $2,500.00/shoot day for his basic creative fee. But what about the licensing fee? There were some factors to consider. The agency and the client were both pretty big players. The client was going to get a lot of use out of the pictures, and they stood to gain a lot from them, all which suggested a solid fee. Applying slight downward pressure on the value was the fact that the photographer didn’t have a long track record with automotive advertising, the spontaneous nature of the shoot made the campaign a little risky for the client, and this campaign was only one of several that they were producing for that brand. After consulting my usual pricing guides and agency contacts, I chose to price the first 20 images at $80,000 (effectively $4,000 each), with the option of the next 10 at $3,000 each and the 10 after that at $2,000 each.
This is actually a departure from my usual strategy. I normally value additional pictures at somewhere between the prorated fee and the prorated fee plus expenses. In other words, if you were to shoot five pictures for a $5,000 fee and $2,500 in expenses, prorating the fee for additional pictures would be $1,000 each ($5,000/5). Prorating the fee plus expenses would be $1,500 ($7,500/5). I figure that if the photographer is productive enough to generate additional ads from the same shoot, he should get some consideration from the fact that he’s saving the client money they’d otherwise have to spend on expenses for a future shoot. So I might normally value the additional pictures at $1,250.00 each. However, in this situation, the initial selections were most likely to be the ones used in ads, and if they ended up using 20-30 pictures beyond that, those later pictures were going to more likely be used for the web and social media. So in order to encourage as much of that as possible, I chose to discount those additional pictures.
The first assistant would be traveling with the photographer and would be responsible for organizing the gear in advance of the shoot and upon return, which amounted to 13 days:
- 1 day before the shoot to prep, rent and pack the gear
- 2 tech/scout days (1 day prior to each shoot city)
- 6 shoot days (3 in each city)
- 1 travel day to the first location
- 1 travel day between the two locations
- 1 travel day home
- 1 day back at home to clean/organize/return gear
- The second assistant would be local to each of the locations and just show up on shoot days (though in retrospect, it would have been nice to have them for the tech/scout days as well). Not knowing how long the shoot days were going to go, I chose to add a line item for assistant overtime to cover myself in that event.
As the producer, I would be attending the shoot. I would be responsible for managing the locations, location scouts, vehicles, talent, lodging, travel arrangements, and of course putting together a production book with all of the maps, routes, locations, travel, comp and contact info. I figured my time on the project, from start to finish, would take 15 days:
- 3 days to prep and coordinate all of the details
- 2 tech/scout days (1 day prior to each shoot city)
- 6 shoot days (3 in each city)
- 1 travel day to the first location
- 1 travel day between the two locations
- 1 travel day home
- 1 day to organize the receipts and create the invoice
- Location Scouts
Finding good locations was going to be crucial to the success of this shoot. Our plan was to initially have a scout in each city spend two days taking snapshots at as many locations as possible that might be appropriate. The photographer would review the scouting report with the agency to narrow down a list of locations the photographer would then scout in person the day or two before the shoot. (Not surprisingly, it wasn’t too long into the first day of shooting that we spotted a cool location that wasn’t on our list and deviated from the plan.) Two location scouts (one in each city), two days scouting on their own, one day with the photographer.
We budgeted for three days of precision drivers, which included one day at the track, and one day in each of the two cities. These drivers were necessary to do anything that either pushed the limits of the car or safe operating conditions. If you ask me, I could drive as well as they could, but I didn’t have the same credentials or insurance. After a few recommendations from our local resources and a cursory search on the local film office database to make sure the recos (agency speak for recommendations) were experienced, we booked our two drivers.
Security, Locations & Permits
Our location scouts both had experience with permits, location fees, and police/security in their area and helped me with those numbers. We ended up blowing most of this budget on one day when we decided to shoot at a racetrack (they are not cheap, nor easy to rent). Luckily, we didn’t need to spend much for our other locations. The rest of the budget paid for an off-duty cop to close down a roadway when we decided to shoot a little boy peering into one of the cars from the street. Safety first. Our scout had worked with him and was able to line him up the night before.
Talent & Wardrobe
In keeping with the fast and loose approach of the shoot, and since we were only going to use people as space filling elements, we decided to use found talent and outfit them with their own clothes. We relied our local resources to call in friends, family and colleagues, and we street-cast a handful of others. During the scout day we’d decide whether or not we wanted people to populate a particular shot and set our local resources loose to call in a crowd. On the shoot day, if we saw a group of kids or good looking couple walking down the street and felt like we could fit them in, we’d ask for 30 minutes of their time. We wanted to keep it real, fun and casual to help the pictures come off as authentic as possible. We paid most of the models $100.00 each (which we recorded on the model release).
When you shoot this many images, you have to account for a significant amount of time to process the raw images after the shoot (usually between 1/2 and 2 post-processing days per shoot day depending on the complexity of the processing and expectations of the client). I usually quote $1000.00/day for post-processing. In this case the photographer was doing the processing himself and wanted to charge a higher rate.
“Reasonable” is what I aim for when I’m putting together any estimate. I don’t want to ever give the impression that we’re wasting the client’s money on anything unnecessary. But I also don’t want to risk looking like I haven’t thought of everything. Even though I want the estimated expenses to be lean, I want to include enough fat in them to account for the unexpected, hence the roundness of the numbers. After a few tweaks here and there, the client approved everything—though the photographer ended up signing the agency’s purchase order instead of them signing our quote, which is not unusual. We did the shoot, and the client ultimately licensed 40 images.
5. Don’t give up.
Persistence will eventually pay off.
via Greg Benson Blog.
This Friday is the big SPD (Society of Publication Designers) Gala where the winner for Magazine of the Year will be announced. Additionally there’s a whole slew of awards for photography: Cover, Entire Issue, Section (single and multiple issues), Feature and Service, Profiles, News/Reportage, Travel/Food/Still Life, Fashion Beauty and Trade/Corporate.
Download the list of nominees (here).
I wrote about the new Getty contract in early April (here) and there was some excellent discussion in the comments about the whole deal, so I thought I’d bring this latest announcement by the American Photographic Artists (APA) to your attention. In a statement the APA said “Adopting baseless, self- imposed deadlines and threatening to terminate contributors who do not accept changes to their existing contracts is not acceptable. As a community, we cannot continue to ignore Getty Images’ efforts to intimidate and strong-arm contributors, and we must not allow Getty Images to force contributors into signing these new contracts under duress.”
The APA contacted Getty through their lawyers asking them to extend the deadline and make clear to all contributors that not signing the agreement will not result in the automatic termination of prior agreements or removal of all their images but Getty refused to respond.
The signing deadline has passed, so I’m wondering if the APA is going to file a lawsuit.
You can download the statements (here).
UPDATE: The AOP (Association of Photographers) agrees with APA that “these changes are unacceptable and that the ‘solutions’ that Getty Images has offered are entirely inadequate and fail to resolve even the most basic concerns.” Read it (here).
CNN has joined the ABC and CBS networks in settling its case against Daniel Morel over the “illegal distribution and use” of images the freelance photographer took of the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Morel’s case against Agence France Presse and Getty Images continues, and should be tried in court in late summer.
This has been a grievous season for the tight-knit tribe of combat photographers. For The Times, the sorrow began last October, when a land mine exploded under Joao Silva while he was shooting pictures of an American patrol near Kandahar, Afghanistan, destroying both of his legs and shredding his intestinal tract. This spring, three other photographers working for The Times — Jehad Nga, Tyler Hicks and Lynsey Addario — were among the numerous journalists who disappeared into the custody of Libyan state thugs, where they were beaten and terrorized before we could negotiate their release. The darkness deepened by several hues last month when two admired lensmen — Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros — were killed while embedded with Libya’s hapless rebel militia.
Conceptual Art gets a bad rap in the photo world. It’s easy to understand why. A colleague of mine in graduate
school once made an 8 ft white pedestal that she called “My ideas are above you,” and I think that about sums it up. Many photographers equate the art world with inane video installations backed by dense press releases packed with large words that bludgeon the average viewer.
I must say, I find the whole divide a bit tedious. I once had a respected photo professional comment that he liked my photographs, but had no use for them because he didn’t like conceptual photography. And look no further than the recent E-debate about the brilliant photographic-artist Thomas Demand. “Is he a photographer?” Does it even matter? For the record, I’ll call anyone who clicks the shutter a photographer. And that includes my mom, who can’t seem to figure out the auto-focus on her $100 Nikon.
The art world plays by a different set of rules, and I think that can boil photographers’ blood. Artists view everything as fair game. The rules are there are no rules. And this can often lead to sophomoric bullshit, like Vito Acconci jerking off beneath the floorboards. Or Richard Prince so blatantly ripping off some Jamaican portraits, slapping them on canvas, and marking the images up 10,000%. Then he had the gall to claim it was his right, as the source material wasn’t creative or original enough to merit copyright protection. Seriously? That’s like the school bully stealing your bologna sandwich and then taking a crap on it in front of the whole school.
Conversely, I think his thievery of Sam Abell’s Marlboro Man was pretty excellent. Those photographs, at least Prince’s, had the stones to criticize the Cigarette industry, and corporate America writ large. They critiqued America as nothing more than a facade of the Wild West propped in front of a bunch of fat cats drinking single malt scotch and lighting their cigars with dollar bills. And while I’m sure Mr. Abell was upset, and many people continue to bitch about said appropriation, let’s face it, even Don Draper figured out that dealing with Big Tobacco leads to bad karma.
Speaking of dollar bills, I’m very curious about the new show opening up at the Guggenheim Museum in New York later this month. (May 20 to November 2, to be exact). Hans-Peter Feldmann was awarded the Hugo Boss prize last year, which bestowed upon him this show, and a cash prize as well. A $100,000 cash prize to be exact. Mr. Feldmann is a German multi-media artist who sometimes uses photography. Is he a photographer? Well, he once did a photo project called “Pictures of car radios while good music was playing, ” and another called “All the clothes of a woman,” which was a series of photos about…take a guess. He also showed “100 Years,” at MOMA/PS1 a few years back, a series of 101 photographic portraits of people, aged 8 months to 100 years.
For the Guggenheim exhibition, Mr. Feldmann is exhibiting his booty for all the world to see. 100,000 used $1 bills, pinned vertically to the wall. Boo-yah. I wish I had the time to photograph the line of ticket buyers who’ll plunk down $18 to go stare at 100 Grand. To be honest, I’d love to go see it for myself. It’s an audacious, elegant idea, certain to offend. But it’s also so gosh-darn honest. The art world reeks of money and power. I think this sense of exclusivity is what pisses so many people off. So Mr. Feldmann is really just documenting his life, like when Nan Goldin started shooting photos of fancy, pretty people galavanting around Europe. No more, no less.
This is the first post from Heidi Volpe who is joining APE as a regular contributor to provide news and interviews from the perspective of and of interest to Creative Directors and Art Directors. If you have news that she might be interested in email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her first interview is with designer and developer Joe Zeff:
I have known Joe Zeff for for a few years now and it has been interesting to see him develop in tandem with the publishing industry and by all accounts contribute to it’s evolution forward. Joe is a designer and developer of noteworthy apps such as The Final Hours of Portal 2 and Solar System for ipad and the Splashlight Studio Tour. You can see more of his work here and check out his blog here.
I wanted to catch up with him about his collaboration with George Steinmetz who best know for his stunning aerial photography and the unique way he captures his images: he flies a motorized paraglider. Here is what Joe had to say about his most recent release Above and Beyond: George Steinmetz.
How do you see this app changing the way George’s images are consumed and enjoyed?
I spent five months looking at George’s amazing photographs, but it wasn’t until the final weeks of production that I truly saw what was there. Hearing George describe the challenges he faced when capturing each image, from weather conditions to equipment malfunctions to police chases. Seeing George run as fast as he can with a flying machine strapped to his back, and marveling at the unbelievable view from a video camera attached to his helmet. Learning that George applies a scientific method to his craft in order to position himself at a precise altitude at a precise time at a precise location. Now I see these images much differently, with a better understanding of what each picture required and a heightened appreciation for what George has achieved through his photography.
With this style of app, photographers are able to develop a multi-narrative arc to the images, the making of, the locations and the actual image, is that your hope? Additional story telling?
I hope that the iPad emerges as a platform for photojournalists who can no longer count on newspapers and magazines to subsidize their work. There has never been a better storytelling device, and by integrating other types of multimedia content the stories resonate even more.
How will these sort of apps complement photographers site/portfolios?
I think that’s up to the photographic community. The depth and quality of the content is much more important than the format. Ideally the format becomes transparent, and is created specifically to support the type of content being presented. Steven Meisel’s work would take shape in a much different way than Walter Iooss’ work or James Nachtwey’s work or Platon’s work. I would hate to see a slew of cookie-cutter portfolio apps result from “Above & Beyond: George Steinmetz.” That was not the intent.
Are these images encrypted with any sort of digital tag?
The images we send through the e-mail sharing forms are watermarked, but the images inside the app are not. The iPad is still new, and effective digital rights management remains to be addressed. The ability to capture any screen image at 1024 x 768, and eventually higher when future devices with higher screen resolution appear, will likely concern photographers, and rightly so.
Is this type of development affordable for photographers? How long did this take to develop?
We had a six-month development cycle, and much of that related to the newness of the idea, George’s travel schedule, and our determination to make it as good as it could be. The next app will likely take less time, as we’ve developed efficiencies along the way.
Apps like this will replace coffee table books before they replace portfolios. There are lower distribution costs, larger potential audiences, higher margins, micropayment processing, and the potential for advertising sponsorships.
If I were to break down your career in segments what would it look like?
I’ve always been a storyteller, whether it was as a sportswriter at The Pittsburgh Press, a designer at the Detroit Free Press, a presentation editor at The New York Times, the Graphics Director of Time magazine, or a 3D illustrator at Joe Zeff Design. Today we can tell stories on the iPad that draw on every one of those experiences, and tell amazing stories like that of George Steinmetz more compellingly than ever.
Another photo App worth mentioning that has been out for two months is 50 Greatest Photographs of National Geographic. That said, this new App Above and Beyond offers more user features and better story telling. In fact, Above & Beyond passed the National Geographic App on the iTunes charts for Top Paid Photography Apps and Top Grossing Photography Apps after only three days. Very impressive, thanks Joe.