The State of the Industry: Gregg Lhotsky, B&A

The State of the Industry, is a new column where Suzanne Sease speaks with advertising industry professionals and influencers to discuss what’s happening and where we’re headed.

Gregg Lhotsky is a well-respected photography representative with the acclaimed Bernstein & Andruilli. Gregg and I have had the pleasure of working together when I was at The Martin Agency and have been friends ever since. I admire Gregg’s eye for talent, his professionalism and the fact that we both grew up in Baltimore, Maryland (same age but never knew each other).

Are clients requiring more and more rights and optional images from still photo shoots?
Yes. Sometimes it seems like a land grab. Often the weakest link are the AE’s who don’t really understand usage.

How many of your current clients require the estimates to process through cost consultants? Do you see more clients using them or realizing they don’t know what they are talking about?
I am seeing less of this lately. Perhaps it is because when clients do use CC’s the CC’s usually do not have an understanding of what things actually cost and waste a lot of time and money on randomly asking for line items to come down.

Do you think our buying society is educated and appreciates the quality creative advertising or is it the “you tube” and reality show mentality?
I spend a lot of time educating younger buyers these days. First, most of them will not pick up the phone and would rather email which is difficult when you are trying to estimate or negotiate a job where nuances can be lost via email. Second, if I had a nickel for every time I had to describe why a stylist needs prep days or what a location van is for. Sometimes I think that they just hired someone, gave them a desk and said go for it!

What are your thoughts on trying to make a product become a viral sensation? Do you think this is the future or will it phase out?
I believe that it is here to stay. There are so many more outlets now that the brands need multi platforms and voices to be seen and heard.

What percentage of print work is your company doing today compared to 5 years ago? Or even a year ago?
We are pretty diversified so we still do a lot of print but also a lot of new media.

Should photographers and illustrators learn the motion medium?
Definitely.

What advice would you give someone who only does print (still) work?
Gotta have some other things in your tool kit (i.e. motion) and do it well!

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s, after founding the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies.

Suzanne Sease

There Are 9 Comments On This Article.

  1. Excellent post. Thank you Rob and Suzanne.

    “I spend a lot of time educating younger buyers these days. First, most of them will not pick up the phone and would rather email which is difficult when you are trying to estimate or negotiate a job where nuances can be lost via email. Second, if I had a nickel for every time I had to describe why a stylist needs prep days or what a location van is for. Sometimes I think that they just hired someone, gave them a desk and said go for it!”

  2. I’m still a bit lost on the photographers picking up video… yes, our DSLR’s now shoot video. I’m a firm believer in doing things well though – and at this point, I don’t have the time (well, nor the desire) to branch out into video. I’ve spent years honing my photography to a point where it is serving me well, and 100% of my effort is still focused on that sector of my business. To delve into the edit learning curve with motion, sound, mixing, and everything that goes with it, it just doesn’t seem feasible at this point. Video is definitely a strong point for some photographers who have staff that is proficient at editing, cutting, mixing… but as a one man show, it’s a tough gig.

    As an aside, I really think video is cool. I often imagine some of my stills as video with soundtrack, etc.

    • I agree, Max. While I like the idea of moving content, if one can’t do it at the same standards still images are created it may drag the image maker down. The competition with those already well known (commercial, music video, and even major motion picture) directors is brutal too. I get the feeling this could be another case of Mercedes tastes with Hyundai budget. Spread the project too far and thin and there is a good chance it will come out in the final product.

      Still like to hear industry feedback though. Thanks for the latest vignette.

    • Excellent point and I’m willing to bet most of the non-rock star working photographers reading this blog have the exact same concern.

      I struggled to understand my identity within this emerging trend. This was the cause of some anxiety in the recent past and won’t try to put up a front like I’ve mastered a crystal-clear vision of the way to move forward. But I did realize that it wasn’t the learning curve that was causing the anxiety, instead it was my unconscious presumption that all motion involves tons of technology and Big Production, ala major motion pictures or national TV commercials. I’ve never had any interest in working in such an environment–be it still or video–and much prefer working solo or with a small band of fun and resourceful colleagues. Keep it simple and try to optimize the visual result.

      Thankfully, it seems there are so many outlets for the type of work that can result if you just apply motion to your interests and work the way you like to work and, as always, the onus is on the marketing to make it financially viable. I’ve recently seen a number of low-budget documentaries that inspired this point of view, so I’m going to dive into motion and see what results. I’ve always considered film a much hotter medium anyhow…time to ante up and kick in.

      And best of luck to everyone else trying to figure this one out. You’re not alone!

    • Having shot and directed a few commercial videos, I think its a good idea to be familiar enough with it to know who to hire to help you out, when the need arises. If you’re familiar enough with digital stills, computers and lighting, you can learn the technical basics of editting and processing in about 2 weeks of intensive study. If you’re not up to speed on computers and digital though… it will be rough.

      If a client doesn’t have the money to spring for a proper crew to do the work, then they’re not going to have the money to pay me to spend days on a substandard product either. Not that I want to spend days on a substandard product.

  3. any examples of photographers who are doing motion (as well as stills) really well? It seems like it’s a case of they either do motion well or stills well for each project, I’d love to see a project where they did both proficiently.

    • I think with tons of time and money, it can be done. But the current environment has neither. I think this is why you sell more seminars selling this notion than an actual widespread shift in industry.

      This is not like how it was going from film to digital.

  4. Knowing what it takes to do good motion work, the canons that shoot video are at the barely there level for capabilities. By the time you get a good set up, one might as well have a red, or go with the new canon film body. Then the learning curve of editing (or hiring an editor), color correction, audio……. It’s a big jump for some.

  5. Gregg is on the mark. It takes instinct and talent to excel in an age where everything is changing on a faster and faster pace. Learning to be an image make and a storyteller is the key. It does not matter if you know how to shoot the canon 5d for motion, what does matter is if you have vision. If the vision is strong enough, they will come.