Posts by: A Photo Editor

Celebrity Shoots Count

- - Working

Guest Post by Cybele Sandy, August Image

This piece arose from the blowback I’ve recently had from artists on the subject of shooting celebrity. The reaction was so severe that I felt like my extremely proper Post-Colonial West Indian delivery was somehow morphing into the vilest of curse words. This is my unequivocal stance on the subject: Celebrity Shoots Count. Perhaps in this era of Kardashian dominance, the idea has morphed into an unappealing, congealed mass. The majority of my career has skewed toward working with celebrity art, so I have had considerable experience with the genre. In other words, I’ve seen first-hand the propellant power of a celebrity shoot.

I know that there are photographers who insist on channelling their efforts toward fine art, or to the gravitas of contemporary photojournalism, and that’s a terrific goal. You should be aware, though, that relying on your fine art portfolio to shop for paying commissions (be they advertising, custom content or entertainment buyouts) can be a risky proposition. Fine art can be challenging for the viewer to interpret, especially given the environment of a quick go-see with an art buyer. An image of a recognizable celebrity can compellingly deliver your aesthetic. It doesn’t have to be Angelina Jolie, but there should be immediate name recognition. A buzzy stylist, up-and-coming musician, hot new model or emerging fashion designer can do just as well.

Celebrity editorial dovetails nicely into the career facets I’ve spoken of previously: personal work- >editorial work-> advertising/commercial projects-> licensing. In other words, bringing the aesthetic honed from personal work to a celebrity shoot may lead to more editorial and commercial projects, with the editorial being of huge benefit to your licensing archive.

[Sidebar: When awarded a commission, always give serious thought to whom/what you shoot. How will this serve my career? Will this work for licensing opportunities down the line? In the words of my Glorious Leader, William Hannigan, licensing is a photographer’s 401K.]

Here’s why:

1. The recognition factor provides an instant point of connection between yourself and the reviewing photo editor/ art buyer.

2. It’s nice segue into the messaging you want to leave behind in terms of your art: talking about your experience shooting said celebrity can break the ice and calm any nerves you may be feeling.

3. It provides an immediate boost to your social media profile and buzz for your brand.

4. They provide an “in” to the PR world and to publicists who hold a tremendous amount of leverage in terms of who gets to shoot.

5. It provides a terrific, real-world test for your nascent team. Can they hold their assigned ground in a pressurized situation where there isn’t a whole lot of time to deliver the money shot?

However, this is all predicated on a recognizable celebrity. It doesn’t have to be Angelina Jolie. It can simply be someone with a strong pop/ cultural profile- the star of a hit tv show or a fashion/ media personality.

Things to Bear in Mind For Celebrity Shoots:

Pre-Shoot:

  • I’ve worked on shoots that have gone extremely well, as well as shoots that have been extremely painful. Do your homework. Ensure that you know the sublime to the mundane- what’s their upcoming project, what sort of music would they like to hear on set?
  • Ensure that all the players have a clear understanding of all of the elements before-hand. The theme of the shoot and looks to be worn, as well as hair/ makeup should have been agreed to prior. This will forestall on-set drama. (Not always, but we live in hope.)
  • It’ll be stressful, so make certain that what is in your power to control day-of-shoot is done well: being on-time and set up early will go a long way toward keeping the environment calm and upbeat.

On-set:

  • Keep the chatter to an as-needed basis. Save that great joke for your buddies at the bar.
  • Art Streiber, during his lecture at this year’s PhotoPlus, delivered these words of guidance: “Treat celebrities like ordinary people and ordinary people like celebrities.” Keep it cool and respectful, yet make sure that you maintain control of the set.
  • Everyone working in sync is the very best demonstration of credibility that you can offer.
  • Make sure you have the contact information of all of the players before they leave.
  • A great on-set experience is the shortest route to being recommended by a celebrity for other editorial and even for advertising jobs.

Post- shoot:

  • Gratitude makes for good karma and certainly, a good old-fashioned paper Thank You note can count for a lot these days. Certainly send one to the celebrity and his/her publicist, as well as the assigning editor. A print from the shoot is always a nice takeaway.

Over the years, I’ve discovered that music & film festivals are actually a nice segue into the genre for my photographers. It’s resulted in relationships that have led to more incredible opportunities in more intimate settings, and the art itself becomes a calling card. The Shayan Asgharnia image of Erykah Badu below (shot at the Roots Picnic Festival) is what made me reach out to him. In its turn, it was part of a body of work that I showed the veteran agent Angela De Bona on my ‘phone over lunch, which in turn led into her signing him for assignment representation.

Another talented artist I represent, Taili Song Roth, managed to capture an arresting, classic image of Clint Eastwood at the Palm Springs Film Festival.

So the takeaway is: take a step back from your less than savory view of this genre of photography. There are ways to approach the work in a smart, credible manner that will not hurl your artistry onto the funeral pyre.

And you will come to realize that it is in fact a sound investment, one that will prove to be a strong, long-term ally to brand-building.

Erykah Badu/ Shayan Asgharnia/ AUGUST

Clint Eastwood/ Taili Song Roth/ AUGUST

The Daily Promo – Leah Fasten

- - The Daily Promo

Leah Fasten

Who printed it?
HH Imaging here in San Francisco
http://www.hhimaging.com/home

Who designed it?
I worked with Flight Design Co to create an overall brand for my business. As part of that branding process, they provided me with design assets and a branding guide to use in my design work. I did the actual art direction and design of the promo using their brand guidelines and assets.
http://www.flightdesign.co/

Tell me about the images?
2017 was a really, really busy year with a ton of client work and candidly I fell behind on my personal work. When this happens I push myself on location or on set to create both images that thrill the client as well as images that surprise me and inspire me. Working this way is what keeps me madly in love with this career.

Initially, the idea for the promo was a kind of “greatest hits” of 2017. When I started looking at the images I was truly drawn to I realized that none of them had actually been printed anywhere. They were all work done in collaboration with clients, yet these weren’t the hero shots or perfect shots. These were the photos that happened in between or didn’t quite illustrate the story. And these are the images that surprised me and inspired me. My attraction to these images was interesting to me and I wanted to explore that a bit more. I used the promo as a kind of sketchbook to do that. (with notes!)

How many did you make?
500

How many times a year do you send out promos?
I do a larger mailing of postcards to hand-selected people 3-4 times a year with smaller, personal postcards sent out on an ongoing basis as I feel emotionally moved.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
Oh gosh. Who knows what’s effective. Is it the postcards? The Instagram feed? The portfolio meetings? Word of mouth? The nice comment my mom made about me on Facebook? That time we stayed out too late and drank too much in LA?

I know that I love postcards. I love sending them. I love receiving them. There is still something so magical to me about print. It’s the same feeling I have when I see my image full bleed in a magazine or feel the weight of the paper for a portfolio print. It’s a great gift when a photographer friend sends me a postcard. I want to share that love with people I’d like to work with.

The Daily Promo – Andy Reynolds

- - The Daily Promo

Andy Reynolds

Who printed it?
Modern Postcard.

Who designed it?
I designed this one. I’ve always left it up to someone else. I was focusing on the advertising market so I included archive (film) and new material (digital) that I thought went together to show off my personality. The logo/name was designed by Jenna Yankun at Jyakun.com who also did the sheep gif on my website.

Tell me about the images?

Meat Trump comes from my series of faceless people. I wanted to show as much of a person without showing him. Shhh- it’s my uncle Al- the wig was made by Ashley Naegle at the Seattle Opera. I had the setting in my head of a butcher shop, white walls and metal and the grinder with the meat. The meat was on sale at Safeway too so no brainer.

The potato chip bag is all about gluttony. Saw it in my head, sketched it, collaborated with an AD to shoot it. Joel is an actor at a theater company here and is fun to shoot with.

Cubicle Wall is another collaboration on an image in my head of awkwardness. I like pratfall and comedy but it’s got to be subtle… also I think when I light stuff I default to sitcom lighting. It ain’t supposed to be ‘lit’ so you light an area motivated by reality/practicals/sun and let the talent do their thing. I try not to date myself with lighting or ‘technique’ – remember how cool cross-processing was? not

The office spread is an outtake from an ad I shot in Chicago for LeoB. The shot called for an office set full of redundancies. Originally they wanted like 12 and we ended up with near 40. I pitched the af-am twins and it happened! That is one shot with minimal p’shop. It’s probably my favorite ad job when I think about logistics, client, crew, and talent. Top Drawer.

How many did you make?
Only 250 I think. I have a small mailing list!

How many times a year do you send out promos?
I am making a commitment to send out 3 a year. Don’t know if I can top this one though. The last one I sent out was on your feed, maybe 2 years ago? “Chipmunks having sex on a photocopier” lol

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
I’d like to think so. I had WMachine compile a list so we’ll see how it goes. In the past, I’d print 500 and send a dozen. Is it me or are these buyers getting harder to find? Seems like they move or have weird titles now.

This agent I talked to when I was starting out – Julian Richards- told me I had to do stuff myself- portfolio review, mailers, follow up calls- or else no one would, not even agents. So I’m gettin back on the horse.

The Daily Promo – Jeffery Salter

- - The Daily Promo

Jeffery Salter

Who printed it?
Anthony Wright who is the owner of Aw Litho a printing firm which specializes in high end offset printing. He’s been doing this for 10 years and is a master of his craft.

http://www.awlitho.com/

Who designed it?
I was blessed to have Heidi Volpe layout and design the promo. She has the wonderful ability to see clarity in chaos combined with an admirable amount of patience. It took me quite a while to choose which images to show. It was great to have an objective pair of eyes of a good editor to select, organize and paginate. She saw connections and relationships in feeling, light, color, mood, textures, and tone in my photographs. Heidi is currently the design director of Vogue India.

https://heidivolpe.com/

I would prefer to be out taking pictures, it can be difficult for me to sit still at computer culling and editing images. What really helped me with the initial image selection was printing 8 x10s and taping to them my office wall. Seeing the images every day, reminded me that sometimes the most dramatic image wasn’t necessary the picture which lingered in the mind.

Tell me about the images?
The photographs in my promotional magazine are a mix of terrains, in the human face and landscapes. The portraits are from commissions, magazine, advertising and personal work with subjects ranging from pro athletes, cowgirls in Florida to an 80-year-old hiker and everything in between. The landscapes were taken in the Highlands of Scotland, rainforests in Olympic National Park and along the rocky Pacific coast, from Carmel to Vancouver Island.

It’s funny that my approach or method to each was vastly different, yet the images each have a connecting thread running through them. With landscape photography it’s up at dawn, lace up the hiking boots and head out with a single pack containing a camera and a lens. Once reaching a potential location, along a waterway, down in a valley or up the side of a hilltop, I like to sit and clear my mind, to see the patterns, shapes, lines or curves that bring order to the visual chaos of nature. As they say in landscape photography, the composition is the stage and lighting is the performance.

Portrait photography, be it for an advertising campaign or personal photo essay is about control and overcoming any limitation. My goal is to make a connection with my subject in order to help reveal something about them. Additionally, it’s my job to control the lighting, choose the composition, location and or set all within whats typically a limited amount of time. Even when you have a shooting script or mood board you still have to be flexible enough to capture a great image when it reveals itself. Maybe it’s more accurate to say that the lighting and composition is the stage and the connection with the subject the performance.

How many did you make?
The first print run was 500. I’m mailed out about 300 and kept the rest for leave-behinds during portfolio presentations. There are a total of 32 images, in the 9.75” x 11” magazine, including the horizontal cover image that wraps around to the back. The paper is 70# uncoated smooth opaque text with Saddle stitch binding and printed with CMYK UV inks.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
This is the first mailer of this type for me and it’s been quite awhile since I have sent out any printed promos. The new plan is to do one magazine a year targeting dream clients and to follow-up with quarterly trifold mailers.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
Yes, I believe in the power of the printed photograph. Printed promos showcase images which for better or worst linger in the viewer’s mind, compelling a second or third look. A printed piece is tangible, it screams “touch me, hold me”, rather than just swipe left or right. As much as I appreciate and enjoy digital marketing via email blasts and social media, I think some images are meant to be printed, held, and looked at.

At the end of the day, images reflect who the photographer is and the depth of his/her’s visual vocabulary.

Thank you for having me.

The Daily Promo – Aya Brackett

- - The Daily Promo

Aya Brackett

Who printed it?
PS Print in Oakland CA
https://www.psprint.com

Who designed it?
Me! I used InDesign and retouched the photos myself as well. I actually love the process of editing and laying out the images and find it a nice way to process through the year’s work. I also find it interesting to make visual connections with spreads and the sequencing of images.

Tell me about the images?
They are a collection of my favorite images from editorial, commercial and personal work from the past year. Some images were taken from an upcoming cookbook I did with Mark Bittman (Clarkson Potter, 2018), some from a personal photo series about people’s comfort food (which I’ve been working on for the past 5 years) and some from commercial shoots. Even though it was tempting to add more photos, especially portraits, I tried to limit myself to mostly still life and food so the portraits didn’t appear too random. I also like to send out the kind of images I like to take so people think of me for these kinds of shoots. And I like food and still life A LOT :)

How many did you make?
I typically do a smaller run and this was just 200 booklets. I send to a select group of my favorite creative directors, photo directors, photo editors and other people whose work inspires me such as chefs, restaurateurs and artists. I really want to target the people whose call for a collaborative project would make me excited.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
Typically I put together a book or booklet at the end of the year for an annual summary of my favorite work from that year. I often also send out limited edition prints to my best clients.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
Yes, absolutely. I crave tactile paper books and prints and I think clients do as well. I also think it’s important to have something that you can hold and look at without online distractions. I hope to make something interesting and visually exciting enough that people will save and keep them hanging around their desk.

The Daily Promo – Sol Neelman

- - The Daily Promo

Sol Neelman

Who printed it?

Never thought I’d be able to boast that Topps printed my promos, but they did. You can upload your photos on their site and pair them with designs from some of their vintage trading cards.

For common cards to fill the packs, I collected old baseball and pro wrestling cards and defaced them with stickers of my masked face. Those were printed at home on shipping labels with my temperamental Epson R2880.

As for the photo stickers and packaging labels, I used stickeryou.com. Can’t believe how great a job they did.

Who designed it?

I borrowed basic design elements from Topps cards and wrappers over the years for my DIY promo pack.

The front sticker features a sketched version of my photo on the cover of Weird Sports 2. Tanyia Johnson, an old friend and talented graphic artist, drew that. She also held my hand – a lot! – and gave great feedback throughout the process.

For better or worse, baseball cards and wrappers back in the day were not designed by anyone nearly as talented as TJ. Many times, I got away with using my basic design skills.

The sticker insert is a slightly modified version of the cover of my first book, Weird Sports, designed by Katha Stumpf at Kehrer Verlag.

Tell me about the images?

With the advice of friend, agent and consultant Maren Levinson (redeyereps.com), we chose 5 images from my Weird Sports book series: Redneck Games, Frog Jumping, Dirty Dash, Ostrich Racing and Drag Queen Softball.

Because of the size and dimensions of the trading cards, I needed images that could hold up well small and were quick hits. I put just one of those 5 collectibles in each pack.

Since my goal with this entire project was simply for folks to check out my updated web site (solneelman.com), I was able to lean more on the WTF?! factor for the entire presentation. Trying to showcase work on a 2.5” x 3.5” piece of cardboard is seldom ideal.

How many did you make?

I made 500 promo packs, and I’ll likely do follow-up special editions for special occasions.

While most of those promos have already been mailed out, I am sending out a little something fun and weird for those that mail me a self-addressed stamped envelope. (My addy: 589 Park Place #14, Brooklyn, NY 11238 USA.)

How many times a year do you send out promos?

Honestly, this is really my first-ever promotional mailer.

This process for me started when Maren asked me this very same question. When I replied that I never mail out promos, she told me to get on it. I wanted to do something that was unique, weird, memorable and – most importantly – felt like me. Also I wanted to create something that was less likely to be immediately trashed.

Usually, when I meet with clients and art buyers personally, they’ll get a signed copy of one of my Weird Sports books, along with a custom luchador mask. Individual leave-behinds have always been fun for me to dream up. Mailers for the masses, not so much.

I loved unwrapping packs of cards as a kid, excited to discover fun gems inside, and I hoped to share that feeling with others. I’ve been toying around with something like this for years, just needed the kick in the rear to get on it. (Thanks, Maren!)

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?

I have no idea, Rob. Having been in this game for awhile, I’ve learned that there are many seeds planted before anything bares fruit. I’d love to think that advertising art buyers got one of my Weird Sports promo packs in the mail, laughed their asses off, checked out my web site and tossed my name in the ring for a fun gig. But who really knows? At least I had fun making them.

To see more behind the scenes on this process visit Sol’s facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/solneelman

The Daily Promo – Julia Stotz

- - The Daily Promo

Julia Stotz

Who printed it?
The book was printed by Smartpress. I printed and bound the vellum cover myself onto the front of each book.

Who designed it?
The cover was designed by my friend, Joel, from This is Forest.

Tell me about the images?
I normally create a shoot specifically for my printed promos. But for this round, I wanted to show a range of food photos that were specific to my aesthetic style. I felt it was the right time to connect the dots from my studio work, to restaurant and chef portraits, to tabletop scenes. I wanted to express a tone, color palette, and voice within the contemporary world of popular food imagery that was my own.

How many did you make?
I made and sent out 120 promos. I’d rather mail less and spend more time on the overall package, then create something super quick to send to many. I think an email newsletter is better for that. I wanted these to specifically go to people who I’ve loved working with in the past, and to dream clients. Each promo ends up being such a labor of love, that hopefully, it goes to someone who will care to receive the object.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
I try and send a printed promo out every year or two, and I send around 2 or 3 email promos as well. It’s such a science trying to figure out how many times people want to receive updates, and what feels like too many notifications amongst the sea of self-promotion.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
I think printed promos are one of the few times a year that I get to see my work beautifully designed, printed, and bound together. So maybe I partly do it for myself to view my own growth, but I think it also creates a visual voice that’s very different than the way work is presented on a screen. I don’t think there needs to be a lot of printed work sent out annually since I know it can be wasteful, but hopefully, that one tactile piece better represents your personality and style to a client and they hold onto it for a while.

I personally love printed pieces, yet I know I receive them way less than any photo editor or art buyer does, so maybe the specialness gets lost. But it always feels like such a great mail day when I get a zine or book that you can see the love that was put into it. Not even the most extraordinary of emails will give me that same tactile effect.

When making anything printed that has multiple steps or people involved, without fail it always ends up taking longer than anticipated. So I always try and set goals in the beginning for when I want my promos to go out, but always add a lot of padding and understanding to that timeline. Anything worthwhile takes time and care. And I want the final creation to represent that.

The Daily Promo – Kristin Teig

- - The Daily Promo

Kristin Teig

Who printed it?
Newspaper Club – Digital Tabloid on 90gsm Bright Paper.

Who designed it?
Creative Director and friend Josh Brown.

Tell me about the images?
I was looking to create my first promo mailer to coincide with the beginning of a new cookbook project that will involve covering food traditions at monasteries/temples in various parts of the world. With this and the recipients in mind, the images chosen highlight street food, restaurant and travel scenes – primarily editorial work and a bit of personal work.

How many did you make?
100 copies – most are being mailed out, some set aside to share in person.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
In the past, I’ve sent postcards, but this was my first more in-depth printed promo. My goal is to send out more intricate promos like this once a year.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
So far this promo has been effective in creating new relationships. I do think they are important for marketing; additionally, I think the creative process of making one – the culling and editing of images – helped me to refine goals and reassess how I present and market my business.

Expert Advice: The Creative Call

- - Expert Advice

Craig Oppenheimer, Wonderful Machine

Just as often as I consult with photographers when they need pricing and negotiation support, I work closely with agencies to oversee projects from initial photographer recommendations through production and retouching. This experience on both sides of productions has allowed me to thoroughly understand what clients are looking for, and many times it’s the photographer’s personality and ability to be a problem solver that lands them the gig. While a photographer’s portfolio and body of work will get them to the point of consideration by a client for a given project, they can articulate their experience and ability to add value to the production that will help them cross the finish line. So, how do clients find out if a photographer will be a sure bet when everything is on the line? Enter the creative call.

Creative calls can take many forms. Sometimes a client (typically an art buyer at an ad agency or a photo editor at a magazine) will send a photographer some notes in an email and will want to hop on a quick call to gauge interest and availability for a small project. Other times (and this is typically the case for larger assignments), these phone calls will be scheduled in advance and involve not only the art buyer or agency producer, but also their creative director, art director, and/or account executives that are involved with the project. These phone calls can make or break a photographer’s chance of being awarded a project, no matter how on-point their numbers are or how great their portfolios look.

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It’s important to understand a few things about these phone calls. First, you should always assume that the agency/client is considering other photographers, and when they finish a conversation with you, they are likely jumping on a call to talk through the same details with another photographer…or maybe two or three more photographers. For that reason, it’s important to express enthusiasm for a project, be energetic, have questions prepared and generally put your best foot forward. I’ve been on many creative calls where photographers have responded to questions in one-word answers, or don’t have any questions about the project, and this is a sure-fire way for the agency/client to lose interest in you. Clients don’t just want a great photographer; they want a great collaborator as well. They want to work with someone who they’ll enjoy traveling with and be spending a lot of time with in high-pressure situations, and they want to make sure you are like-minded and easy to work with. Above all, they want to make sure that you understand the overall goals from a creative standpoint and a marketing strategy perspective. During the call, it’s therefore important for a photographer to prove that they have fully internalized the project, and explain how they can add value to the production and therefore the entire campaign. First impressions are crucial, and when you are meeting over the phone, it’s your voice and energy that matter, so make it count.

The second important thing to understand about these calls is that clients are trying to figure out if they can trust you. They want to hear how your experience can translate into success, whether that means being a problem solver in tough situations, or being a specialist in a certain genre. Creative calls are the perfect time to brag about recent accomplishments and tell clients about other projects you’ve worked on. Don’t be afraid to drop some names of other clients you’ve worked with, and take the opportunity to relay anecdotes about other shoots. Clients want to know that you are confident in your abilities and that you can handle the pressure of a big assignment. Sometimes clients are looking for you to come up with a plan and drive a given project with confidence from start to finish. That means they might be relying on you to tell them the best way to accomplish a difficult task or suggest production approaches that they may not have thought of.  However, it’s also important to realize when the client will want to be heavily involved in each step, and when they are just relying on you to be a technician to accomplish their fully thought out concept. So, showcase your confidence in a way that lets them know they can trust you, but also expresses enthusiasm for collaboration.

Third, it’s important to know that creative calls are not usually the time to talk about numbers. Save that conversation for a separate call between you and the art buyer or agency producer. The point of the creative call is to talk about…well, the creative! What are you photographing? Where will it take place? What do they want the final images to look like? What’s the story they are trying to tell? How are you going to accomplish it? These are the types of topics to focus on, and this is why the creative directors, art directors, and account executives are also joining the call. So, as much as you are dying to know how much money a client might have to spend, save that question for another conversation.

Fourth, this might seem like common sense, but be sure to take the call in a quiet place where you can focus on the conversation. Don’t jump on the call while you are driving in the car. Don’t be in the middle of the woods with poor reception. Don’t be somewhere noisy. Clients want to know that they have your undivided attention and that you can focus on the project. It’s ok to tell a client that you need to schedule a call when you will be in an appropriate location to talk (your house, a hotel room, a quiet studio), and although your schedule might be busy with other productions, it’s important to show a client that their project is equally (if not more) important as any other production you might be working on.

Lastly, it doesn’t hurt to have a producer on the line with you when you jump on a creative call. They can help you show confidence in your ability to execute a concept by drawing on their experience, and they can ensure that you’ve received all the information you might need to develop a cost estimate when the time comes. It also shows your ability to pull a team together quickly, and lets the agency/client know that you have a team to rely on to execute the project seamlessly.

So, let’s review. Here are the top tips for a successful creative call:

  1. Assume you are one of many options for them. Make them like you more than other contenders.
  2. Exude confidence, but just the right amount. Show them that you have ideas and will be a team player.
  3. Don’t talk about the budget. Save that conversation for another time.
  4. Take the call in a quiet place where you can focus on the conversation.
  5. Invite a producer to join the call. It will help to showcase your capabilities.

If you need help preparing for a creative call, or if you are interested in pricing/negotiation support, don’t hesitate to call 610.260.0200 or reach out. Our consulting services are available to everyone, and we’re always happy to help.

The Daily Promo – Jason Elias

- - The Daily Promo

Jason Elias

Who printed it?
The promo was printed by Paper Chase Press in Hollywood – http://shop.paperchasepress.com/. They are super easy to work with, their color and print quality are pretty high, so I’m always happy with what I get. Every time I go in there I ask for sample packs and fairly recently I saw this postcard book. I thought it was a great and unique way to get noticed and one part I liked was that if someone liked an image, they could easily tear it out and tack it to a wall or put it in their creative archive of work they liked (at least that’s what I had in my imagination). And then one Producer told me she was going to use one as an actual postcard which was great.

Who designed it?
I designed the layout of both the front and the back but the edit was done by a great editor based in Texas, Jasmine DeFoore – https://www.jasminedefoore.com/. I really like Jasmine’s take on things and she always helps me see my work with fresh eyes. Once she knew I was going to do the postcard book, she also had the great idea of having an animated GIF in flipbook form on the back. So I found a great animator in DC named Travis Pietsch to build me one – https://www.travispietsch.com/. I kind of had an idea and he helped craft it and make it. Once I had it on there I realized that as much as you try to stand out in some way, there is also something to just having fun and enjoying being creative for the sake of being creative, and that’s why I loved the flip book so much.

Tell me about the images?
The images in this promo were meant to take someone on a bit of a journey. My initial inclination was just to pack the promo full of what I felt were iconic images. But when I do that I find I have just a bunch of great images with no coherent connection, like all sizzle and no steak. So that’s also why I find working with an editor so helpful. It allows you to take a step back and hopefully connect with something larger in your work. If I were to just put images in it that I love, it might not fully communicate the deeper vision that tends to drive what I shoot, and more importantly, what people hire me for. So Jasmine was able to help me find a through-line, tell the story of what it is that I shoot. So I guess I would say the images are many that I love bridged by others that help evoke the larger vision of why I love to shoot.

How many did you make?
I used to be the guy that printed 2000 promos and blasted them across the land. As I have matured and my work has grown I tend to be much more focused. So I printed 75 and still have 15 in my office.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
As far as printed promos I usually do two small poster runs and one larger book, or now, postcard book a year. Then I also send out maybe 4 to 5 email campaigns a year.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
I do think they are effective and I have a couple of clients who specifically contacted me after getting a printed promo. But its hard to know what is most effective and that is why I am pretty excited to be signing with a new rep in January at The Gren Group http://thegrengroupinc.com/. One of the things that Paula and Mark (who run The Gren Group) and I have talked about is using analytics to discover what marketing is most effective. It costs so much money and takes so much time that getting a deeper understanding of what marketing works will, I think, be really insightful.

The Daily Promo – Daymon Gardner

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Daymon Gardner

Who printed it?
Grossman Marketing, handled by Julie O’Gorman
http://www.grossmanmarketing.com/

Who designed it?
Ben Tousley
http://www.wilkerton.com

Tell me about the images?
The promo consists of fifty-three images spanning eight years and is titled <89 Seconds, which represents the total exposure time of all the images. I knew I wanted to play with the concept of time in the early stages of the promo, and realized the concept became a vehicle that allowed my edit to be diverse in subject matter. I’ve been in New Orleans for 10 years and because it’s a small market, have covered a wide range of subject matter. I wanted to include hints of still life, landscape, and documentary work while anchoring the promo with sports and portraiture work. The editing process was tedious, but cohesive in the end I think.

How many did you make?
500, 300 mailed directly from the printer, 200 sent to me that I could mail to current clients with a personalized note or keep on hand as leave-behinds.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
This is my first printed promo and is long overdue. I typically send out an email promo 2-3 times a year and try to setup portfolio meetings whenever possible. I think because I waited so long to send out my first printed piece, I was pretty ambitious and wanted to send out a portfolio essentially. My plan moving forward is to continue a printed piece twice a year, but smaller in scale.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
I’ve received a few email responses already and noticed a spike in site traffic the same week the promo shipped. I’ve noticed the open rate on my email campaigns drop off over the years and feel like print is an effective way to break through the clutter. My short term goal for the promo was to get my work in front of people and build a handful of relationships, both in editorial and advertising. I believe I already am meeting that short-term goal. Long term, I hope to build on those relationships and earn the opportunity to create images for those individuals. Its too early to measure that goal, but I’m optimistic.

The Daily Promo – River Jordan

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River Jordan

Who printed it?
The promo was printed in Portland by Mark Evans at Premier Press. (mark.evans@premierpress.com / premierpress.com).

Who designed it?
The design was a fun collaboration between Mariah Jochai at Craft-O-Graph (mariah@craftograph.com / craftograph.com) and myself. Mariah has helped me with logos, web design, and also happens to be a badass creative director too! I had a couple of different ideas for this promo so I got out my scissors, made a rough version of it, and then Mariah created the template. I placed the photos and then she took over, gave it some swag, and made sure it would print properly.

Tell me about the images?
My goal for this piece was to show a range of the work I had done over the past 18 months. I shoot three very different things- sports, travel stories, and cowboys. I decided that I would focus on water-related adventures for this project. The images are a combination of personal projects, editorial assignments, and advertising work. My goal with photography has always been to shoot what I love and then hopefully have that translate into work for companies and magazines. I have a great rotating crew of guys that I travel with and finding off the beaten path adventures is not only super fun but helps keep the inspiration flowing in my work.

The first spread of the promo was a trip that we took to El Salvador and Colombia. We didn’t really know much about surfing in Colombia but we ended up perched on the edge of the jungle for a week. We scored surf for one day and then ended up diving with whales and hunting for waterfalls the rest of the time. As luck would have it, I ended up shooting a similar combination of activities in Indonesia for a magazine a couple months later.

I love to do projects with athletes. Their focus, determination, and competitive nature are infectious! The Hawaii section was a trip I took with pro volleyball player Tri Bourne to his hometown in Oahu. The goal was to get some insight into what kind of an environment builds an Olympic caliber athlete. I had all kinds of questions! They were answered in the time we spent bodysurfing at his local break, hiking with his childhood friends, canoe sailing down the coast, and bullshitting in the back of an open truck on the way to the North Shore. These are the types of projects I live for!

How many did you make?
We printed 500. My agency pulled together a list of potential clients that I would love to work with and then I sent a bunch to folks I’ve done projects with in the past. I put 400 in the mail, sent 50 to my agency, and kept 50 for meetings.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
This is the first “proper” promo I have ever sent. I have done some postcards in the past that were sent as thank you notes and such but this was the first one.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
For me, it’s just an amazing way to connect with potential clients. Not to mention I love having something tangible to share with people! I have spoken to a few people since the promos went out and they all said positive things. I’m hoping a few of them made an impact! I sometimes think photographers put a little too much emphasis on positioning themselves in a certain way. I like an approach that reflects who you are and what you’re passionate about. My Dad’s side of the family are cattle ranchers from Colorado so I spent time on the ranch when I was a kid, my folks bought a boat and we sailed all over the world when I was in my early teens, and then I played water polo in high school. Everything I focus on in my work is either something I know about from personal experience or that I’m curious about. Generally, those things go hand in hand.

I think that at the end of the day your marketing should reflect your story. Live a great story, share it, and the right people will find ya!

The Daily Promo – Emily Shur

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Emily Shur

Who printed it?
I printed it with Anthony Wright who is sort of a print broker, for lack of a better term. You send him the specs of the project. He will source the printing and quote based on your needs – printing only, printing + mailing services, etc. He oversees the job and was actually the one who was on press for this project as I was out of town.

Who designed it?
The fabulous George McCalman designed it.

Tell me about the images?
Well, this is really a big ol’ mixed bag. There’s some editorial work, some advertising work, and some personal work. I knew I wanted to do a promo piece that showed different facets of my work. I love doing celebrity portraiture, but I also love doing other things so I’ve been trying to integrate the “other things” in with the work that clients may already associate with me or my style. It’s a little risky because I don’t want to confuse people, but I do want to make sure I’m showing work that I’m proud of, excited about, and would be excited to shoot. The thought process behind grouping these images together specifically was to show images that (hopefully) all feel rooted in a consistent point of view even though the subject matter and style might be varied.

How many did you make?
I made 1500 total and mailed out about 1400.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
I try to do one printed promo a year on my own, and my reps do an agency promo once a year as well.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
It’s hard to say definitively, but I think I’ve had the best luck with quality printed pieces over quantity. The promos that seem to help the most are the more thoughtful and ambitious ones – the ones that take longer to put together and are more expensive, which some years just aren’t doable – but if you book some good jobs because of it then it will pay for itself. I don’t see the point in spending money or energy on a forgettable piece. However, you never really know what people will respond to, so sometimes you have to trust your judgment and just go for it.

The Daily Promo – Brian Kaldorf

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Brian Kaldorf

Who printed it?
The postcards were printed by www.4by6.com. I really like their finishes and variety. The boxes were printed by www.packlane.com– super easy to upload a design and excellent service. The tissue paper was done by digiwrapit.com, again, a huge variety of the types and textures of paper that they offer. Last and certainly not least, the mini growler was made by this wonderful company sigilandgrowler.com. They do a variety of custom growler configurations, really awesome stuff.

Who designed it?
I did all of the design work myself, I worked with a designer on my initial branding years ago and I’ve been slowly rolling out these hyper-targeted mailers.

Tell me about the images?
I had the concept for this particular promo long before I even had a full body of beverage work. I discovered the sigil and growler website and the idea for a personalized promo evolved from that. I wanted something that felt a little more personal than just the standard postcard. The imagery has been an ongoing evolution to produce a new beverage portfolio with the hopes of attracting some new beverage clients. My primary background is in product photography and I worked for about a year on this new book (you can view the new portfolio here). I wanted to produce images that were dynamic, graphic, and clean.

How many did you make?
So far I have only created half a dozen due to the expense. Because of the cost, I am hyper-targeting who they go out to- mainly dream clients or those who have really, legitimately shown an interest in this new body of work.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
Right now I send printed promos in the form of 6 postcards spaced out throughout the year. I also do an email blast that goes out every month that the printed promo doesn’t go out. Larger promos ( like this growler box) aren’t based on a timetable, but rather go out based on interest level in my work and potential client interaction.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
I think it’s a “fire on all fronts” kind of thing with promotional material. I think for the most effective return on your efforts you need to be doing all you can to get and keep your name and work out there. It can’t just be printed promos, it needs to be email blasts, face to face meetings, phone calls, etc., anything that keeps you top of mind with our client base.

The Daily Promo – Lauryn Ishak

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Lauryn Ishak

Who printed it?
It was printed by Ilitho in Indonesia (http://www.ilitho.co.id/). Brownfox uses them frequently and their quality is great and they’re one of the few able to do offset printing, with certain stock papers at a smaller print run and also at a reasonable cost.

Who designed it?
Brownfox Studio (http://brownfoxstudio.com/). I was introduced to Brownfox Studio by an art director friend of mine and really liked their work. They have a superb portfolio, most of it for brands and F&B outlets but are experienced in photography, as well, as they design the feature stories of the Indonesian-based travel magazine DestinAsian (http://www.destinasian.com/). Brownfox also redesigned my website (www.laurynishak.com).
We went through very minimal revisions as their ideas were pretty spot on. It was minimalist and practical but striking and beautiful at the same time.

Tell me about the images?
I worked with Stacy Swiderski at Wonderful Machine on the selection. We went through a couple of revisions on the selects as they had to be somewhat equal in representation (portrait, lifestyle, food, hospitality, travel, etc) and new work kept coming into the fold. In the end, we picked 60 images. This meant that I was able to curate a set of 8 (each envelope contains 8) for a specific client or industry. Having that breadth of 60 also means that I am able to make many different “general” versions for leave-behinds.

How many did you make?
I printed 60 images at 50 counts each. I have 200 of the green envelopes and 200 of the fabric pouches. We figured we could make more if we needed to. More than half has been mailed out or left behind after meetings with clients.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
Living in Asia and working with quite a few regional clients, promos aren’t quite as common as they are in the US. It’s just a different way of working out here. I had done a promo a long time ago when I first started shooting but didn’t think it was much needed. Then luckily things got busy over the years and the thought of making a proper promo, truthfully, fell by the wayside. But last year, I figured it was finally time to make one so I got cracking and designed these ones with Brownfox Studio. And from now on, I’ll do them once a year.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
I’ve received very positive feedback on these so far and in the short time these have been circulating, some editors have gotten in touch with queries and needs which have led to collaboration. However, having said that, since this is my first one in a long time, I think I need to give it a little bit more time to make a proper assessment.

Pricing & Negotiating: Licensing Extension

Jess Dudley, Wonderful Machine

Concept: Licensing extension

Licensing: Unlimited use of 36 images for two additional years

Photographer: Lifestyle and portrait specialist

Agency: Mid-sized agency based in the Midwest

Client: One of the largest manufacturers you’ve probably never heard of

Here is the estimate:

pricing and negotiating, wonderful machine, estimates for shoot production, shoot production estimates, executive producers who do estimates, estimates for photographers, wonderful machine production company, examples of photographer contracts, Jess Dudley, executive producer

I wanted to take this opportunity to make the case, yet again, for limiting licensing. As many of you have surely experienced, clients are increasingly expecting unlimited use, by default, regardless of the intended use. Nevertheless, it is important to press against that default request whenever you face it.

A lot of times, you’ll get the canned, CYA response – “it’s going to end up in a lawless, Wild West of an asset library and our people can’t be trusted to read the metadata or attached restrictions.”

I don’t blame clients for taking this protective stance. If an intern inadvertently pulls an image for a use beyond the scope of its licensing restrictions, the client could get dinged with an unexpected licensing fee, talent fee and/or infringement claim. However, acceptance of an unlimited usage agreement eliminates the opportunity to generate future revenue for a given image or set of images, which is crucial to sustaining and growing any photography business.

Unfortunately, the request/expectation/demand for unlimited use has become so ubiquitous that we have defined the term in our standard terms and conditions. In some cases, when the client asks for a buyout or unlimited use, they mean it and plan to fully utilize the extensive license (price at-will in those cases). But in many cases, they don’t, so it is important to do your due diligence to find out exactly what the client means by “unlimited.”  “Unlimited,” like “Buyout,” means different things to different people, so it’s important to run through the gamut of potential uses and mediums with the client to figure out exactly how they plan to use the images. Do they really need international use? Are they really planning to put billboards up in El Paso? Do they really plan to use the images after 2024? It could be that they mean an “unlimited” or unknown quantity of emailers, postcards or brochures. “Unlimited” collateral use is far less valuable for most clients than “unlimited” advertising use. Or they may be referring to the duration of use or the number of images from the shoot, expecting a “library” of content instead of a set number.

The point is, it is important to press for more info so that you can create the opportunity to generate licensing fees down the road. Once you narrow the scope to precisely what the need is, push hard to cap the duration for as brief a window as tolerable, even if that means giving up imagery. In many cases, there’s real potential for the client to extend the duration of use, even by a few months, while they wind down a particular placement.

Last year I wrote a post about a project I negotiated for a Trade Ad campaign. The client came to us with a broad scope of use (Unlimited), but was willing to limit the duration of use, and also requested pricing options for licensing extensions. This allowed us the opportunity to create the potential for future revenue. Just as the license was set to expire at the end of last year, I followed up with the client to find out if they were still using the images, and/or if they planned on extending the licensing through 2017 or 2018. (side note – get in the habit of adding license expirations to your calendar or using license tracking software like Blinkbid to remind you when licenses are set to expire so you can follow up about continued use).

The client was still using the images and planned to continue doing so through 2018. On the approved shoot estimate, we’d quoted the 2018 duration extension at $26,750.00 That represented the minimum licensing fee we would be proposing. I say minimum because our standard terms note that any licensing options presented are only valid for 15 days from original file delivery. It’s written this way because the leverage shifts dramatically after the images are created and as time wears on. In a perfect world, the expiration of the licensing option pricing would be the day before the shoot, but that may be a little too aggressive. The value of the imagery changes (generally increasing) as you move from estimating to delivery to first use.

If a client comes back to extend usage, it could simply mean that they now have funds that they didn’t initially, or that something that was unknown and unproven is now known and proven, essentially giving us leverage to push for higher fees based on the new perceived value. Of course, that’s easier said than done. Once those numbers hit the page on the initial estimate, in normal circumstances, you’ll be hard pressed to increase the fees in any substantial way without potentially impacting your relationship with the client (particularly if there is additional work on the horizon, which in this case there was… more on that in a future post). Also, in this instance, we felt like the fees were healthy enough, to begin with, so there wasn’t much need to even consider higher fees. Accordingly, we sent the above quote, which was quickly approved by the client to allow for the uninterrupted use of the imagery.

If you have any questions, or if you need help estimating or producing a project, please give us a call at (610) 260-0200. We’re available to help with any and all pricing and negotiating needs—from small stock sales to large ad campaigns.

The Daily Promo – Winnie Au

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Winnie Au

Who printed it?
Kirkwood Printing – they’re a great place based a little outside of Boston, MA. They have been in the business forever and were really easy to work with. I previously have done a lot of digital printing/printing through the internet for my promos so it was nice to do something that involved person to person contact. I went to the press check, and I really enjoyed touring their space, seeing the CMYK plates, and meeting people who know their colors, machines and craft so well.

Who designed it?
Suzanne McKenzie. I was very lucky to have someone as talented as Suzanne working on my promo. We’ve known each other for many years, and I’ve done several shoots for her company Ablemade, so it was a natural fit to have her design something for me. She has an amazing vision and understands the type of people I am trying to reach, so it was great to have her insight and eye on both the edit and design.

Tell me about the images?
We spent a lot of time working on the edit of this zine. I do a lot of shoots of various subjects, which is generally a great thing, except when it comes time to edit. I think that a huge part of what defines you as a photographer comes down to your edit, especially in this age of digital photography where we tend to [as photographers] shoot way more frames than film photographers did. So sifting through the past year’s work to tell a coherent story can take some time. As my other photographer friends have advised me in the past, you have to only show work that you want to get. A lot of my work is environmental portraiture, so I wanted this zine to be a window into the lives of the people I am lucky enough to photograph, as well as showcase diversity of age, gender, and race. I always find my subjects and their lives/homes/workplaces to be inspiring, so hopefully, others who see the images in my zine will also find inspiration in them.

How many did you make?
An edition of 1000 – we mailed out 750 copies to art buyers, photo editors and to past/current/prospective clients. I retained the rest for my rep to hand out in person and for my own in-person meetings.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
Not enough! Usually, I manage to do 2 print promos a year – one larger mailer and then a more focused holiday mailer. And then I do email newsletters in between, more frequently throughout the year. I think the strategy of doing smaller mailers or postcards (vs a 52-page zine) more frequently could be effective, but I haven’t figured out how to make that work with my brain and schedule.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
Yes, definitely. I guess a huge part of me just enjoys printing things and so selfishly I like to tell myself that of course, it’s effective and worth the time and money.

But on a less emotional and more logical side, I think that if you can make print pieces that stand out, they are extremely effective. I know art buyers/editors do receive a lot of promos, but at the same time, I think people still enjoy receiving old-fashioned snail mail and packages that are thoughtfully executed. Hopefully, someone will keep it at their desk or on their shelf as a reference. But basically, if just one person gives you a job after seeing your promo or remembers your name who didn’t know it before, it all becomes worth it.

This year a few of the people I sent promos to did Instagram stories of the inside of it, which was a nice way to get instant feedback from the promo and know that it made it into my intended audience’s hands and that they were enjoying it. I think all marketing is still a numbers game. If you can reach someone via snail mail, great. If you can reach some via an email newsletter, also great. You really just need to be reaching people through various methods so that at the end of they day, they know you exist or are aware of your recent work.

Tell me about the title?
The title “Without Words” is part of an ongoing theme in my print promos. The first zine promo I did was named “Wander Over With”. The second one I did was named “Way Over Where”.

The connecting thread is that each title loosely is an acrostic spelling out “WOW” in it (which refers back to my website winniewow.com, which happens to be a phonetic spelling of my full name, Winnie W Au). It’s a bit convoluted and I don’t think anyone will ever notice, but it helps me creatively to have this structure to work around when naming my promos. Or…is it a really effective subliminal message?! Ok, probably not, but one can hope.

The Daily Promo – Elysa Weitala

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Elysa Weitala

Who printed it?
HH Imaging in San Francisco printed the photo cards. I’ve worked with them on a few other projects and they are wonderful! Great quality prints and awesome people! The custom blue box was printed by Packlane and the branded wrapping paper was from Spoonflower.

Who designed it?
Last year I went through a full rebranding with a team at Wonderful Machine. This promo was the final piece to my new brand! Karen Yee was my amazing designer throughout the entire rebranding and created the design and concept for this promo. Stacy Swiderski was my editor and helped me select just the right images.

Tell me about the images?
My editor, Stacy and I wanted to make sure that my first large promo showcased the range and variety of my work. With a cohesive style that reaches across my primary disciplines, Food and Still Life / Product Photography, we opted to send each contact a set of both food and lifestyle cards. The images are a mix of personal and commissioned work from the past few years. The images chosen worked well together but could also stand strong on their own.

How many did you make?
100 Complete Box Sets and 20 Individual Card Sets

How many times a year do you send out promos?
This is my first promo! I plan to send one intricate or large promo each year followed by one (or two) smaller promos throughout the year.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
Yes, very much so! It is a break from the constant stream of digital media present in this industry. It also gives me the chance to bring elements and materials into my branding that is not possible with a website, blog, or email campaigns.