Posts by: Suzanne Sease

Still Images In Great Advertising – Danny Christensen

Still Images In Great Advertising, is a new column where Suzanne Sease discovers great advertising images and then speaks with the photographers about it.

Great Advertising is not only a print ad or billboard, it can be a vehicle that is not considered conventional. Today’s example is just that, a new show on E! called Scouted, which becomes an unconventional way to show a photographers work. I’m sure many will be critical of the show itself, but this is the reality of the business:

There are many people in this industry includes photo editors, art buyers and art directors who will watch and see Danny Christensen at work photographing and directing models. What better way to advertise how you shoot on set and then the final results in printed images. I reached out to Danny after watching the show to see if he would be interested in being a part of this series.

Suzanne: How did you get the opportunity to be the photographer of record for this program? I am sure they considered hundred’s of fashion photographers and you got the job, that is a great testament to your talent.
Danny: The executive producer and creator of the show, Michael Flutie, contacted my agent, Lorenzo at L&A Artists, and asked if I would be interested and requested a meeting. That was on a Tuesday, 7 days before the planned start of the filming the NYC part of the show. Originally, there was supposed to be 8 different photographers on the show, one for each episode of the first season. A few hours after the meeting they contacted my agent and requested a 2nd meeting the next day, where I was to meet the entire team of producers, including the guys from 51 Minds who produced the show and the Executive Producers from E!

The meeting went really well and Thursday morning they contacted us and asked if I was interested and able to do all 8 episodes – with pre-production meeting the following Monday! I guess I fit the bill of who they were looking for and I think a big part of it was my non-traditional look and feel to my work and my experience with motion, that Michael Flutie was keen on integrating in the shoots.

Suzanne: I have several clients who have been the photographers on Americas Next Top Model and it has been great for their careers. How have you seen changes in your business?
Danny: The response has been amazing. Especially the first couple of weeks here in 2012, where Season 1 episodes are coming to an end. I think everyone was waiting to see how the show developed and that the quality of my work, both the pictures and the videos was consistent.

I shot everything on the RED EPIC camera, so everything was shot in motion and we pulled still photos from the motion film with amazing results. It’s a quite new way to approach fashion and beauty photography. Additionally we cut together a fashion film clip that was shown to Scott from One Models the day after the filming, and Scott based his decision to sign the girls, both on the video and the stills. So, a lot of the response has been from clients who are interested in doing just that, filming a commercial/video component and shooting the stills.

Suzanne: Most the time you are working with young talent who have never been professionally photographed and to make it even more difficult, photographed for the first time on television. How do you work with them to get them to feel comfortable with the whole process? Is there a lot of unseen footage where you are coaching them? inspiring them? talking to them about the process?
Danny: It was very challenging for sure. I’ve worked with brand new talent many times before but as you mention, there is a crew of 30-40 people and 3-4 cameras on set for these shoots so most girls just froze like a deer in headlights when they came on set. I had to talk to the crew and we found a solution where only the people who had to be on set was there. That also included asking the girls parents and the scouts to wait off set, the girls simply couldn’t relax and I didn’t get a connection with them before the people they knew left the set. Then the girls were more relaxed and they connected with me and the camera.

When ever I could, I would go and say hi to them and introduce myself when they were in hair and make-up and I would explain a little about what we were going to do, but it was primarily to just break the ice before they came on set. I feel some times with brand new girls, it’s better to simply direct them on set rather than trying to explain them something before hand, that they don’t understand anyway. That normally only results in a girl trying to “model” as they might have seen online or on a tv show and that’s NOT going to work, especially in a video/motion piece.

In most cases, due to the production and time challenges, I didn’t even meet the girl beforehand and she would walk on set with the tv cameras rolling. That was really challenging ,but most of the girls warmed up after the first shot and we got beautiful pictures and videos.

What You don’t get a feel of on the show, because of the editing of the tv footage, is that I only had max 45 min filming time with each girl where we did 2-3 different looks. I have never done that before. Additionally, we had around 14 hours turn around time for final images plus edited and produced videos. It challenged me as a director and photographer and I feel I learned a lot from it. It forced me to practice and plan how I approached each girl, based on concept/look and a little profile video clip of each girl that the scouts provided me with – that was really exciting!

Danish-born Danny Christensen discovered his love for the visual arts working in advertising and PR in Copenhagen and New York. This passion for advertising led him to transition into fashion, portraiture, and fine-art photography during the following years. In 2006, Danny attended photography school in Denmark. He continued his creative journey in Paris where he assisted various fashion and portrait photographers It was also in Paris where Danny started started his career as a working photographer shooting, editorials, small commercial jobs, and film. Danny splits his time between New York and Copenhagen, Paris & Milan.

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.

The State of the Industry: John Boone, Boone-Oakley

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.

John Boone is in my eyes one of the original virtual office pioneers. It was 1995 and John would work part time at The Martin Agency offices and part of the time in Charlotte, NC, where his family was located. We worked together on many projects and I loved the way he thought: “how can I do something that has not been done before.”  After John decided to venture out on his own with copywriting partner, David Oakley, they continued that belief: For Bloom grocery stores they created a billboard with a muffin that fell off the billboard on to a car. I love that about him!

Suzanne: What other mediums do you see print images being used in advertising?
John: Direct mail will be around forever because it has always has a proven track record of ROI results. Point of sale is becoming more important as well. I think print images will always be strong in vertical publications (especially fashion, sports and automotive). Also, OOH will continue to be strong even though digital displays are becoming more prevalent.

What are your thoughts on Ambient media and do you see this taking off in the States as it has in other countries?
I think it’s been taking off for many years now. Like the non-traditional work Crispin did for Mini, Truth and Burger King. Now every client wants a viral video, a guerilla event, a flash mob, a crowd-sourced idea, etc.

When I go to adsoftheworld.com most of the print mediums that are featured are from outside the United States? Are we being too safe? Are clients pulling us back
Advertising in the U.S. has always been “safer” than other parts of the world. Primarily because the the old P&G model to buy tons of media GRP’s and hammer the sales message over and over. Europeans take a very different approach to advertising. They see it as a more subtle art form that uses intelligence, humor and striking imagery as provocative weapons of seduction. That being said, agencies like Droga 5, Wieden, Goodby and a few others are proudly representing the American ad scene in the right way.

Are clients requiring more and more rights and optional images from still photo shoots?
Yes, with the advent of the digital age, images have a shorter shelf life and can be used on a much bigger (often undefinable) scale. With more and more media options at their digital disposal, clients are looking for ways to expand their marketing message. An image that used to only be used in a print ad is now also used on a website, a banner ad, a blog, a billboard, a trade show booth, an email blast, etc. There’s also an overtone of, because it’s digital, it should cost less.

How many of your current clients require the estimates to process through cost consultants? Do you see more clients using them or realizing they donʼt know what they are talking about?
Usually, the bigger the client, the more they require cost consultants.

Do you think our buying society is educated and appreciates the quality creative advertising or is it the “you tube” and reality show mentality?
With the advent of the digital age, there’s definitely been a shift towards clients demanding for faster, cheaper solutions. To many of them, digital = cheaper. With crowd-sourced commercials scoring high at the Super Bowl and low-budget videos going viral on youtube, it’s hard to justify the value of expensive commercials. And, with easier access to digital video/still cameras, editing software, retouching software, etc., it’s becoming more and more difficult to justify the expense of higher-quality imagery.

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?
We have several clients who have asked us to create viral videos for them. It’s hard to tell them that viral videos don’t exist. We can create a video and hope that it goes viral. But it’s kind of like writing a hit song. On the other hand, we’ve actually created old-fashioned billboards that have gone more “viral” than most viral videos. It’s just a matter of doing something that’s worth talking about giving people a reason to share it. Some things will phase out over time, just because they’ve become passe or uncool …like flash mobs.

What percentage of print work is your company doing today compared to 5 years ago? Or even a year ago?
In 2010 we did a ton of print work with Mizuno. Now, a majority of our work is digital and broadcast.

Should photographers and illustrators learn the motion medium?
Yes, absolutely. Clients and agencies are looking for more and more ways to create content to extend the brand message to all forms of media. It’s more often than not that print imagery will also need to be utilized in motion, whether it’s a web banner, a mobile app, a microsite, a web video or some other form of content.

What advice would you give someone who only does print (still) work?
Read the answer above. Also, since more and more digital firms are doing the lion’s share of work for brands, photographers (and their reps) need to spend more time getting to know them and market to them.

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.

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.

The State of the Industry: Mike Hughes, The Martin Agency

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.

I had the honor of having Mike Hughes as my supervisor while I was at The Martin Agency. The Martin Agency was voted the US Agency of the Year in 2010 and is known for their work for Wal-mart, Geico, Discover Card, Hanes, Moen and Miscrosoft. Mike was inducted in to The One Club Creative Hall of Fame in 2010, a prestigious group that includes David Ogilvy, Jay Chiat, Tom McElligott, Hal Riney, Dan Wieden, David Bernbach to name a few of the greats. It was such a pleasure to work with such a creative mind and you can see that in his answers.

Suzanne: I have asked the question before “Is print dead” and I know most of us will always love the tangible print, if so what is realistically the future of the still image? According to a 2011 Advertising forecast from Mediabrands, part of Interpublic Group: Over the next five years, magazine advertising will decline in each of the world’s 10 largest markets for magazines, with the exception of Brazil and Russia.
Mike: Magazines and newspapers will continue to morph in the years ahead. If personal printers take off, there might even be a resurgence of print edition customized for the reader. Two years ago, I might have said that the decline in print editions will be very steep; now I’m not so sure.

What are your thoughts on Ambient media and do you see this taking off in the States as it has in other countries?
The lines between types of media (OOH, print, broadcast, digital, earned, paid, audio, video, old, new, etc.) have been erased. Moving images can appear in books. Stills can be riveting on digital. Sights, sounds, signals and even smells can emanate from outdoor. Hopefully, the borderlines between countries will also become less thick. Certainly media
opportunities developed in one part of the world will soon emigrate to every other part.

When I go to www.adsoftheworld.com most of the print mediums that are featured are from outside the United States? Are we being too safe?
I suspect that we’re not caring enough.

Are clients pulling us back?
No. (A great agency never blames its clients.) I’m betting we’re not inspiring our clients enough with the print work we’re doing.

Do you think our buying society is educated and the “you tube” and reality shows mentality verses the appreciation of quality creative advertising?
If there’s anything the world learned from Steve Jobs, it’s this: society loves quality when it’s relevant and helpful and cool.

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?
The language has changed over the years, but the goal of advertising has always been to help good products “go viral.” That won’t change. (Obviously, “going viral” isn’t limited to online connectivity.)

Should photographers and illustrators learn the motion medium?
Most should.

What advice would you give someone who only does print (still) work?
It’s more important than ever that whatever you do, you have to have an advantage over your competitors. The best way to do that, of course, is to be BETTER than your competitors.

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.