This kind of thing is usually relegated to the lower realms of photography but it’s nice to see Advertising Agency Latcha and Associates would like to include car photographers by seeing if they will shoot samples on spec. From their “Shoot A Sample” brief:

selected photography samples will be presented to the client. upon approval, you will become a preferred shooter for our collateral work. Bottom line: there is a lot of photography that needs to be captured. and shooting needs to begin soon. since the look is very unique, it is imperative that we have the right talent in place to move forward. We will create a talent pool of those who hit-the-mark to then move forward in bidding projects, and in some cases, direct award. also, and most importantly. this is a HUGE opportunity to shoot a look that’s new and fresh. you get to be part of our team – and assist in collaborating and evolving the style of a major automotive brand!


We sincerely hope you join us in this sample project. this is a very exciting time to be creative and redefine an agency/photographer relationship. By participating in this exploratory project, you are agreeing to do so without reimbursement from latcha or lincoln.

Nice try Latcha, you didn’t think we’d notice, did you?

Picture 3


—– Forwarded Message —-
From: David Latcha <>
Sent: Thu, August 19, 2010 1:30:52 PM
Subject: Re: FYI Shoot A Car Sample Brief

Thank you for your insights.

1. This information was shared, under confidentiality, to a select group of photographers. When we find out who shared this information with you, that photograper/rep will be banned from ever working with this agency and I’ll make sure that all of the other art buyers in Detroit are aware of their indiscretion.
2. We have no idea who you are or if you even are what you claim. No website? That doesn’t seem professional.
3. You have no idea what is being asked. That is obvious. Professional car photographers are asked by all reputable agencies to produce samples to help define strategic goals. If the photographer has produced a style and a look that works for the strategic creative, and the agency and client agree, then that photographer is then chosen to shoot and produce all, if not a majority, of all of the photographic needs for the campaign.
4. We are not “stealing” shots, these are samples that we are asking for. The brief describes that we are not paying for the exploration, but at the same time, we ARE NOT USING ANY OF THE PHOTOGRAPHY being shot AS SAMPLES for any purpose other than to determine the creativity and artistry that a photographer may bring.

David Latcha

Interesting because spamming photographers with your proposal does not infer any kind of confidentiality what-so-ever. Also, I doubt this claim that “Professional car photographers are asked by all reputable agencies to produce samples” because I’ve spoken with professional car photographers who thought this was a horrible proposal.

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  1. Reminds me of the new Dominos Pizza campaign asking customers to photograph their pizzas and send the shots to Dominos.

    Pay for food photos like everyone else, Dominos.

    • @Corey Woodruff, to play devil’s advocate, why should they pay when they can get it for free? I make my living as a photographer, so this kind of thing hurts my business so of course I’m not happy about it. But in a free market, if people are willing, is it wrong for Dominos to do this?

    • Mayhaps a bit disingenuous, but that is an old ploy from back in the day. I remember a friend complaining that his wife sent in a slogan to a contest and was shocked when they received a letter illustrating that the contest was over and that all submissions had been signed over to the company (fine print) and months later found her slogan the focus of a campaign. The relationship between brand and consumer has always been a little shifty, but now it seems that shifty is the rule

  2. I think I saw this in a Craigs list add.
    They also wanted me to shoot for free and it if worked out well this time they might hire me next time for actual money.

    No thanks

    • The following blog post, in addition to being hilarious, serves to remind us that photographers aren’t the only ones put in this position by clients. Read it all the way to the end. It’s well worth it.

      • @Forest McMullin,
        I love reading that every time. David Thorne is my hero.

      • @Forest McMullin, that’s pretty good – thanks – R

    • @Alan Hess,
      A friend sent me this site..apparently his is a photographer as well.. struggling like the rest of us. He totally hit home about the Craiglist “great op” scenario though.

  3. The agency is getting paid while asking other people not to get paid, right?
    How about we “be creative and redefine the agency/photographer relationship” by asking for some professional respect?
    Very disappointing,

  4. Guess what? They’ll get countless submissions. Another buffet sponsored by the Free Photography Feeding Frenzy.

  5. Rule number one: Whenever something is written in CAPITALS pay it extra scrutiny – it’s likely either a distortion of the truth, compensatory enthusiasm or a flat out lie.

  6. Craiglist/Agency

  7. Instead of going out and party these creatives they should do their job….
    PAY to Play….but hei they’ll find some idiots that will do this for free…these Agencies are so cheap

    • @robert gallagher, Love this Robert, this whole thing is horse shit. Sounds like an agency who A. can’t concept their own look and B. can’t research their own talent. LAZY. And you know I would know a thing or two about how this works.

  8. I don’t think this is very surprising. I often have quality photographers offer to do spec work just to get a foot in the door. The language also indicates that the photos are only for client presentation/agency review and will not become the property of the client/agency. This seems like a decent, if it’s legit, opportunity for a hungry photographer to win an account in the declining niche market that is car photography. Granted, it’s seems slightly overboard to have to go out and shoot the specific models w/o the client providing them. But I guess if they are asking too much, they will know when no one responds to this.

    • @Midwest Art Buyer,

      Exactly. I sometimes get contacted by clients who ask if they can have an image hi-res to present for a meeting, for inspiration. Sure, it depends on who is asking, but a lot of times it is worth the effort.

      The knee-jerk response of ‘hell no’ is unfortunate. But I guess all those people are too busy to try something like this anyway.

      • @Cletus, So you guys like working for free, right? BTW how is communism working out for you?

        • @FTF, This looks like a paying job, assuming Lincoln doesn’t go bankrupt. Spec shoots like job interviews. It’s not communism if your the one who gets paid in the end.

        • @FTF,

          I like being proactive. It takes me to levels I would not have reached otherwise.

        • @FTF, How’s free market capitalism working out for you? The market sets prices based on supply and demand, right? There are way more photographers than well paying assignments now. If you ask someone to do a service for cheap or free, and they are happy to do it, isn’t the market working? Not for us photographers that need to pay our bills of course, but it’s not capitalism’s job to take care of those who are having a hard time earning a living.

          I’m no proponent of communism, by the way, but I do think we need to put limits on capitalism.

    • @Midwest Art Buyer,
      It’s being sent to established car photographers. Also, purposely excluding their agent from the inquiry.

      • Its not being sent to established car photographers only–they threw out a really, really big net here. And can someone explain keeping the reps out — i dont get that. This agency has their own in house photo studio which half the time walks with the bids anyway. Its just a creepy way for a creepy agency to get some fresh ideas. @A Photo Editor,

      • @A Photo Editor, well, that does seems underhanded going around the agent. I wonder how an agent would feel about this (if any are reading this)? Chance for a pay day or waste of time? I think the difference for me, is that if I ask for a spec shoot, which is almost never, I would not be crowd sourcing it. Besides, an Art Buyer or Art Director should be able to get an idea of what your photography style is from your website w/o a spec shoot. This sounds like a bright idea from an over zealous Account Manager or the client themselves.

    • @Midwest Art Buyer,

      “client presentation” IS usage and should be paid for even if this account is not “won” by the photographer whose work is shown.

      I have pitched accounts/projects before but was compensated to do so, and the work presented stayed my IP.

      I can believe that they sent this out but it shows a real lack of creativity on the agencies part. Laziness really.

  9. Man I really hope no one is doing these guys this favor. And if so, we need to interview this photographer(s) and ask them why.

    • @bobscott,

      It ain’t me, babe, but the reason is some riff on this:

      “It’s a great opportunity for me, and/or I’m not working now anyway.”

      I’ll bet it’s only a matter of time before someone suggests that a photographer should pay them to take an assignment under the auspice of it being a great opportunity.

  10. Midwest Art Buyer is correct. While I personally wouldn’t touch this, sometimes a spec shoot is reasonable. Not only that, but if they get good (enough) quality, then more power to them. It’s a business, so the less money they have to pay and the more they take in … the higher their profit. Too bad, but that’s 99% of the people.

    That being said, in my experience in various fields – you usually get what you pay for. Hire a cheap designer, you get a cheap looking product. Hire a more expensive designer, you get a better looking product. Get your friend to pose, it’ll look amateur. Hire a real model, it looks professional.

    This does not always mean that the more you pay, the better the result. Just means that if you don’t pay a reasonable price (reasonable changes in different economic conditions), you are unlikely to get a superior product as all the people who are slightly successful won’t touch it. You’ll only get the people who aren’t working … often for good reason.

  11. I sent them an email letting them know how I feel about it:

    I wanted you to be aware that your invitation brief to “shoot a car sample” is in fact a slap in the face to professional photographers currently working in the automotive industry. I was forwarded it by a photographer in your area this morning, I had to look at it twice to figure out what the “Huge Opportunity” was that was mentioned. I failed to see any viable opportunities listed in the brief other than the opportunity to be taken advantage of. I find that asking highly skilled people to work for free to be highly offensive and unpatriotic. In a time of such great economic uncertainty I feel you would have been much better off spending your time, resources & money on a plan to hire an established photographer in the automotive industry. Instead you have clearly chosen a path to undercut established professionals in the industry in an obvious attempt to get something you want without paying for it. No matter how attractive a package you wrap your idea in it is still considered “stealing.” I will be advising my professional colleges in your area to steer clear of Latcha & Associates & any associated projects in the future as I find your business ethics to be lacking. I sincerely hope you reconsider your “shoot a car sample brief” idea for the sake of your company’s reputation.


    •Proudly working as a “PAID” photographer in the
    automotive industry for over 25 years•

    • @Nobody, AWESOME

      • @john, I mean seriously.

    • @Nobody, Cheers to you for writing such a great, articulate letter. Maybe all of the photographers on this thread should send a very similar letter to the agency, and then spread the word to other pros to do the same. Then Latcha & Assoc. would get a bunch of letters either in addition to, or maybe even in lieu of a lot of free work/creative ideas from hungry photographers.

    • @Nobody, Nicely written. Big high five.

    • @Nobody, “unpatriotic” hadn’t heard that used before in this context. Have to go chew on that for a while.

    • @Nobody, Unpatriotic is correct! I find the proposal just as slimey as Domino’s campaign for customers to shoot pizza pictures. I’m gald I haven’t bought a dominos pizza in for over nine years now. Don’t think I will for a while longer and spread the word.

  12. I’m trying to figure out a way to crowdsource the crowdsourcers.

  13. Just to play devil’s advocate here, Rob posted an earlier thread about photo contests, the low chances of winning, and the even lower chances of getting paid work as a result of participating. How is this really different? It’s basically a photo contest. It might lead to a paid engagement. And there isn’t an entry fee.

    Honestly, I think this has the potential to be a clever marketing campaign. I realize it’s terrible implications for people who make their living as a commercial photographer, but it could be interesting. If they took it one step further and make a kind of reality show out of it — have the aspiring photographers shoot a different Ford product each week, eliminate one photographer each week until one “winner” is chosen who gets to do a paid photo shoot. It would get a lot of exposure for the Ford brand and probably provide good visibility for the finalist photographers.

    I don’t know — just trying to look at it objectively. I could see how something like this could be done as a win-win. What they are proposing seems to fall short of a win-win situation, however. As it stands it looks like another attempt to get people to work for free. But it has potential with a little imagination.

    • @Tom,
      This is going out to established car photographers so it’s not like they’re trolling the internet.

      It strikes me as extreme laziness. We’re too fucking lazy to go find a new visual approach so you do it for us. What’s the point of using the agency in the first place if all they do is email a bunch of car photographers looking for spec ideas?

      • @A Photo Editor,

        Agree. I’m not trying to defend Latcha here. They look like weasels. I’m just thinking about the potential for the concept. The reality show format has worked well for fashion designers, cooks and artists. I could see a photography-oriented competition having appeal beyond the photography community. I think Ford could make an interesting promotional campaign out of something like this.

        • @Tom, I think their are already reality shows like that. Playboy comes to mind and I think maybe MTV did this as well.

          • @Greg Brophy,

            Thanks, I’m not familiar with those. I was thinking more in terms of an advertising campaign. But after that dickhead email from Latcha, I don’t want to even risk giving him any free ideas.

      • @A Photo Editor, Yes, it’s laziness and it’s manipulation of younger, less shrewd photographers! The e-mail he sent you showed his lack of professional conflict resolution skills.

        • @Paul, It is like the guy was caught with his pants down while he had his hand in the cookie jar. Too embarressed to pull them up and get things right. I’d be happy that he put himself in more of an embarressing situation by contacting others about his stupidity.

  14. Would love to know the budget for the snazzy pdf they sent out to photogs and how much the designers and copywriters made on that.

  15. Classic scenario of the times… For those that have been around for 20+ years- we already know that it was only a matter of time- that a flailing industry of less-than-qualified participants completely obliterate what once was… Interesting how generations and generations of commercial photographers of ALL disciplines were able to build a comfortable living, raise families and gave back to local societies needs- and yet only in the matter of a few years in to the digital revolution has the quality of producing a “quality product in the camera” been demeaned and relegated to not much more than one’s child’s first grade finger painting project. What a shame-

    • @Freddy,

      Well said,

      I’m a 25+ year commercial shooter in So. FL.
      It’s getting so bad that many of my friends in the business are leaving the area or just closing up & working at Home Depot.
      Digital stripped away the “aura & mystery” of what we do.
      The proliferation of images on the internet, royalty-free stock (which MANY of us contributed to…)clip disks (remember those…) and the like, has totally demeaned the value of a “single well-crafted photograph”.

      When the disks were all the rage, one potential client said “I can buy a disk with hundreds of images on it for $100,
      what makes your two photographs worth $300?”

      Well, his products weren’t on the disk…

      This is part of a disturbing trend, brought about by an entire generation growing up thinking that cellphones are cameras, and accepting the lower quality as “NORMAL”

      There’s a local “AD AGENCY” where the “AD” uses his I-phone for their “photography”

      It’s everywhere, butI’m still fighting the good fight, and I’m determined to be the “last pro standing…”

      Mike Z,
      Ft. Lauderdale, FL

      • @Mike Zimmerman,

        Mike I could not agree with you more. The quality of photography and the ads that accompany them since the digital revolution are horrendous. Thank God I got out of the business.

  16. @A Photo Editor

    Asking for spec ad shoots is pretty low. I’m interested to hear other photographer’s opinions regarding magazines out there asking for editorial “Submissions”. Pretty much the same thing if you ask me–photographer has to come up with concept, pay for production and hope it will get published in exchange for tearsheets?

    • @Rick, It seems that the frequency with which i get emails from name brand and news stand available magazines asking for submissions to be shot on spec, with no guarantee of publication or payment, and to be financed by me has increased rapidly over the past few months. Its not just magazines either, I recently got offered to shoot a spots equipment and apparel providers products for no fee other than the “great exposure I would get” when their ads ran in a “major men’s magazine”

      The idea of magazines, especially ones charging high rates for ad space, trying to farm out content for free by basically turning their publication into little more than a contest is a little sickening.

    • @Rick, Would be nice if these mags had an idea about the direction of their next issue to help with the shoot too. But no, nothing…

      One big fat dead end.

  17. I picture a scenario in which many fascinating, fresh, unusual car shots are sent in – FOR FREE – to this agency, which then takes them into focus group meetings and creative meetings. The best elements are then selected from each one, and a photographer is selected – but certainly not from among the pool of free photographers. The creative director, Art director and account team have no intention whatsoever of risking their own jobs, raises and awards on an unknown. This is the point where they go pay the big, expensive, established photographer – and give him or her a bunch of FREE scrap, and say, “Here. Give us a big slick version of this, and make it look edgy and real.”
    Part of the problem here is that advertising has changed so drastically in the last 20 years. Agencies now have three people doing the job of 15, and instead of real raises, they are constantly reminded of how lucky they are to even have a job in this economy. Most advertising creatives that I know work an average of 10 to 12 hours a day, and most weekends. The creatives are overworked to the point of exhaustion, so it is no wonder that they are casting around for free help. They are generally underpaid and overworked.
    Are there any advertising creatives on the board to dispute this, or offer additional insights?
    By the way, that was one nasty, mean spirited email sent out by the agency in response to this item. That “you’ll never work again in this town” tirade is unnecessary. He’d garner a lot more good will by simply explaining his position more skillfully.

    • @fran pelzman liscio,
      I agree Fran. I think the worst part of this whole thing is his response. To even suggest that “photograper/rep will be banned from ever working with this agency and I’ll make sure that all of the other art buyers in Detroit are aware of their indiscretion.” is absurd.
      I hope he does tell the other agencies about this. I think he’ll soon learn what a bad idea this really is.

  18. One word: RUN

    Run as fast as you can in the other direction! : (

  19. I need a great tasting chocolate cake. So this is an invite to you, one of our country’s best bakers, to bake me a cake and send it to me by September. Please don’t forget to include the recipe. Oh and please only use the ingredients listed below. If my friends and I like your cake, I might pay you for it. I might even get you to bake another for me in the future. Rest assured that I will not use your recipe to bake my own cake. Really I won’t!

    I suppose that photographers interested in doing this kind of shoot, could somehow justify it by considering the productions expenses a marketing expense. Instead of doing creative for a marketing piece that gets sent out to hundreds of potential clients, your doing a specific creative for ONE potential client. If it doesn’t fly, you could always send it out to the hundreds. Or can you? What if your work “inspires” the agency but they decide to use another shooter?

    I can’t imagine why anyone would participate in this type of spec work.

  20. Sounds too much “give us inspiration(your ideas) but we reserve the right to shoot it ourselves or with another photographer”

    • @john mcd.,


      I can’t believe the person at the agency had the cahones to write back as if they were the victim.

      There is no devil’s advocate or rationalizing this specific scenario. It’s not “well if they just did this and this it might be OK…” because they’re clearly NOT doing it another way. They obviously want free concepts to present to their client, so that their (conveniently unmentioned) in-house shooters can recreate the shots their client likes best afterward.

      It’s unbelievable how a lack of ethics has become “the norm” when doing business in this industry. Everything is “do what you can get away with” now. Didn’t these people’s parents teach the whole “there’s a right way and a wrong way to do things” principle? Does anyone remember the concept of “straight and direct communication”, or is everything all biz-speak now where you have to read between every word to derive actual meaning?

      Just because there is no law preventing companies from abusing spec practices, doesn’t make it “OK”. It’s called personal responsibility and a sense of ethics, and it’s gone missing on the business side of creative arts. Many spec jobs are “something for nothing”, dressed up as “capitalism and open markets”, pure and simple.

      Spec only works if the vast majority of companies doing it are above board and handing out contracts to the effect of “if you submit this thing freely and our client likes the concept, you’re getting paid $___, to do ____, by ____.” Anything else is BS / an easy out for those who need the content. I haven’t taken any scientific polls but my guess is very few spec companies do that, and a lot of them brush you aside if you demand a written contract based on what I’ve read. Much of what’s behind “the spec movement” is simply greed. Making a profit is one thing, cutting people out of the profit equation is another thing, and some of the young bloggers in the industry haven’t been around long enough to realize it. Can’t fault them but they need to wake up.

      There are some successful, talented people in the digital field who feel that the spec movement is a “revolution” and that finally, the market will perform perfectly and the best people will always get work because of the internet, inexpensive but powerful software, free training and social connections. Get some software and some gear, be better than the next guy, do the social networking thing and rest takes care of itself, the theory goes. Would be nice if it worked that way, but it doesn’t.

      This kind of thinking reminds me of Wired magazine in the mid-90s. To read their articles on “emerging markets and technology”, you’d think we’d all be wealthy and living in utopia by now, communicating via telepathic linkup to the “Fiberoptic-sphere”. If I had a dollar for every over-hyped, incorrect prediction Wired made over the last 15 years about how all things digital would “transform our lives and economy”… well. You’ve seen the headlines the last few years, and you see the headline above.

      Anyway, this idea of a “content revolution” is based on the delusion that those looking for content wait for “the best talent” and then (eventually) pay up for “the best content”. Wrong. They look for “who’s available right now, who is ‘good enough to do a decent job’, that isn’t asking for a contract? Him? Her? HIRED!” Meantime someone better just lost income. It’s true that the very best WILL always get work in any field, but most of the time they’re not getting that work from spec jobs. They get hired because of their name and portfolios, and it’s understood from the start, you’re not getting anything for free.

      It’s easy to be on the side of the spec movement if: a) you don’t need to rely on it to make money; or b) if you are in a peripheral field like training (which I am). I’d be all for spec-work if there were some way of protecting artists in the process, without them having to bankrupt themselves by hiring a lawyer 3x a year to go after the shady companies that didn’t meet their obligation. Unions are not a great solution either, as they often end up being greedy too after a while, and cause other types of problems in the marketplace when they’re not warranted. I don’t know what the solution is, but it’s not the system as it’s currently being practiced.

  21. Here’s some thoughts based on reading several of the comments:

    1) Yes, agencies ask for images all the time when pitching new business or presenting a new campaign. They need them to translate their vision into something tangible the client can grasp. And usually the work they present represents the shooter who they are recommending shoot the campaign (more on this below). It appears that this situation is very different in that they are giving you creative direction and specific car models to go shoot (not exactly pulling images from your existing portfolio).

    2) And, my guess, is that should you be the lucky photographer(s) picked for the project, you won’t be shooting the campaign. They will try to license the image(s) from you at a stock rate. So instead of getting your regular $10K day rate plus usage plus expenses, they will probably offer you something like $1500. The whole thing reeks of a Huge scam.

    3) As someone else also stated above they have their own in house photo dept. So, even if they like your stuff, there’s also a good possibility they would just knock it off. When you a hire a photographer, you’re not just hiring someone to take a photograph (anyone can push a button), but rather collaborating with the photographer and having them bring their creative vision to the project. Here they may just steal your creative vision and then make the images themselves.

    4) This sounds like a desperate agency grasping at straws to get some good creative for a new campaign. Or possibly even maybe a last ditch effort to save an account that has threatened a review. But they are going about it all wrong and seemingly underhanded. If your in-house creative sucks, get some freelancers in there. Or hire new writers and art directors. I wonder if Lincoln is aware of this approach Latcha has come up with.

    Points 2 and 3 are purely speculation and in normal circumstances I would not have even conjured them up. But based on how this whole thing is going down, I wouldn’t be surprised at all. In the response at the top from David Latcha, “If the photographer has produced a style and a look that works for the strategic creative…” only further embeds the speculation that they are looking for creative because Lincoln doesn’t like anything Latcha has come up with on their own. To produce all that collateral, advertising, etc. is a huge amount of photography. Considering Latcha has it’s own photography dept., do you think they are just going to let all that money walk out the door? Again, just speculating.

    • @Dana,

      I forwarded a link to this page to the ASMP and to Public Affairs for the Lincoln Brand at FoMoCo.

      • @Victor John Penner,

        While Dana has the benefit of the doubt because he shoots cars at a high level, keep in mind that most of the complaints here are pure speculation. Of course the guy wrote an angry email, his agency not only had their confidential brief outed to all their competitors, they are being shit on by lots of people who only have the slightest shred of the story. Their livelihood is being threatened by a bunch of knee-jerk responses from disinterested parties.

        Yeah, read the brief, it doesn’t look great. Asking for images and then giving creative direction is basically spec work. But they’re not looking for creative inspiration, the whole brief explains that the creative has already been provided. The car shots included are heavily shopped to the specs of the creative. The campaign will be released in October. They’re obviously in the final stages of putting this together.

        Just calm down. If you don’t like how the agency operates, then don’t do business with them. But for the love of god don’t try to destroy them on based on uniformed information combined with strangely lofty principles. Christ.

        At least Rob took the brief down. Under threat of legal action I’m sure. I would be just as pissed as David. There is more to this story than trying to get photographers to work for free. I guess we’ll never know.

        • @Cletus,

          How is being against spec work, “strangely lofty principals”?

          How am I trying to “destroy them”?

          The “creative has already been provided”? Then why do they need to do this? I will proffer that they are NOT creative, merely following along, not leading, or creating anything of value.

          • @Victor John Penner,

            Seriously?? Tattling to the agency’s client?? How would you like it if random people on the internet were emailing YOUR clients about your ‘bad business practices’ that they didn’t fully understand?

            Why does Latcha need to do this? I don’t know. But anyone claiming to know their motivations is speculating. All I’m saying is that there isn’t enough of the story to pass judgement.

            • @Cletus,

              Maybe you haven’t been in this business very long, but in case you haven’t noticed, it is on life support. The gatekeepers KNOW better and so does every single person that posted against it here.

              Why are you an apologist for this? The “offer” is written EXACTLY like all the BS craigslist ads that are mocked constantly in every photography discussion I have with fellow professionals.

              • @Victor John Penner,

                This business is not on life support. What a massive overgeneralization.

                Funny how you rail against a brief like this but have on your site images that were shot FOR THE EXACT SAME SCENARIO. Microsoft brand libraries, shot on spec, creative provided. I get those emails too.

                • @Cletus, You could possibly be one of the stupidest people I have ever had a “conversation” with.

                  I created those libraries for Microsoft through their agency Leonhardt Fitch. All real jobs, quoted, won, retained, created, delivered.

                  Post them up Cletus. I can’t wait.

                  • @Victor John Penner,

                    “xxxxx is looking to procure a small library of pre-existing lifestyle photography images that can be licensed to accommodate an intermediate stock need for the Windows phone brand. Details of the photography style and scenarios are in a pdf document that I’d like to email to you for conversation. The document is 1.5 megs and can be sent upon request.”

                    pdf (from this spring) went on to describe the characteristics of the photos they were looking for, which were described in such detail that the only way to satisfy the creative was to shoot on spec. That’s nice to hear you got paid, I guess that was before they started asking for stock or spec since your site is from 2008. Though I’m sorry that you have to resort to schoolyard insults.

        • @Cletus,

          No, no threat of legal action but any anger should be directed at the bonehead who spammed a bunch of photographers they’ve never worked with. Because I know people make bonehead moves sometimes I took it down but, it is insane to think there is some implied confidentiality when spamming people.

          I would have not even posted it if I didn’t know that photographers who shoot cars for a living found it repulsive. I honestly don’t know what goes on in that side of the business.

  22. Someone should contact the client and let them know what they are doing with their product, that would be fun i imagine they are paying a lot for this agency work.

  23. It is all the worse when you read their web site:

    “yes Yes YES!

    That’s what you’ll hear from us. Not old, tired excuses.”

    Five reasons to be?


  24. I send examples all the time. In the form of marketing paraphernalia. Postcards, email, website, portfolio. I have no problem working with people that I have a relationship with. I will bend over backwards for people I like, but this smacks of a fishing trip with the shooter as the bait. I’m not saying that that is what it is, but it sure looks like the ones I have seen in the past. Remember the line, “…and this will be great exposure for you!”

  25. Let’s all go take snapshots of their car in a lot and turn them in. :-)

    • @Brooks,
      I was thinking the same thing! =)

  26. I don’t want to seem like a snob, but a good look at this agency’s website will put help frame this discussion in a better context. Suffice it to say we’re not talking about Wieden + Kennedy or Goodby, Silverstein here.

  27. as designers, I am sure they would never do spec work, and AIGA does not recommend doing spec work either. Why would they expewt prof. Photographers to do spec work?

  28. All you need to know about this comes from Mr. Latcha himself:

    “MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS” – heh heh heh, yup, he’s really proud of this turd, what an awesome exposure opportunity.

    @Cletus: As for privacy concerns, don’t be such a tard- as soon as you hit send/post/tweet it is now part of that great, digital garbage can we know and love. It’s public even if you ask everyone to pinky promise not to tell anyone else about it. To put it another way, tell me, when is SPAM ever private?

    As for the premise, it’s sweaty-foot smelly- “samples to determine the photographer’s creativity and artistry”. Umm, isn’t that what web sites and books and portfolios are for?

    And after you give away your work *** You’re Approved! ***

    I needed a good laugh, as I had to turn down this great multi-day commercial shoot (at least they were offering gift certs…)

  29. For those of us who know Latcha+Associates and have done work for them in the past, this email comes as no surprise. Dave Latcha is a hack and a theif, and now has run out of decent ideas and has resorted to phising.

    What some of you may not know is that Latcha and Associates has their own group of ‘in house’ photographers, and anyone who has bid a project with Latcha knows you are bidding against them. I can only hope that one day Ford Motor Company will wise up and see Dave Latcha and for the douchebag he really is.

    I personally know several top shooters in Detroit and Dave’s threat is laughable to all, as most have stopped bidding on Latcha assignment’s because they know one of Latcha’s hacks will just shoot the project anyways.

    This is a last resort by a desparate man whose talent pool has long since dried out. Dave whatever self respect you had in the Detroit Ad Community has now been lost with your last email.

    • @Austin,
      I think we’re getting a clear picture of the situation now. Thanks for the comment.

  30. This is something that happens across the creative industries. As an example, when the market is tight architects are asked to compete in design competitions to win the contract for a new building. When this is a high profile building for a legit client (for example, the new US embassy in London) you know that if you have the preferred design, you’ll win the job. However, when it’s a random high rise tower for an Omani developer you’ve never heard of, there is a chance that they’ll basically claim the project has been canceled and pass your concept over to their local guy who can build it cheaper (absolutely not denigrating Omanis, I’ve just seen this one happen).

    Point is, people are free to ask these kind of things, and as professionals it’s our responsibility to judge if the client is worth the time (usually not) and our choice to compete or to (usually) ignore. Part of being a professional, no? On the other hand, when it’s a photo contest for a big publisher/company aimed at amateurs and copyright is claimed in the small print, that’s disgusting.

    David Latcha’s reply was so arrogant and condescending though that he surely deserves all the bad publicity he gets through this. He’s an advertising professional isn’t he? Surely he should be able to deal with a little bad PR better than a child.

  31. Gosh… I think he has a smashing idea there.

    I write a blog. It is very tiring sometimes to come up with stuff to write about so I have to, like, research it and stuff.

    I’m like. “I don’t have time” and my friends are all like “whoa, why don’t you get some, like, awesome spec writers to do it for you?”

    And I’m all like, “Whoa…” And they are all like “For sure.”

    So I am going to send out, like a totally awesome bunch of emails to, like other writers and like that and tell them I have a totally awesome, like, idea.


    So like, the writers write and illustrate articles for my blog and I will post them. And at the end of like, I dunno, a year or so, I will ask the readers like

    “Which article was totally rad?”

    And they’ll all be like “Whoa” and I’ll all be like, “no dudes, like seriously!”

    And that writer, the dude (or, like, dudette) who wins will get a totally rad offer to submit like a proposal for something for my next, like… I don’t remember where I was…

    I need to like, totally mind my own business… which is like a totally rad Idea.

    I do love LA…

    • @Donald E Giannatti,

      And if your blog has 1m subscribers I may think that it’s worth a days work for the exposure. Point is, it’s my professional choice to decide either way.

      (actually, I love your blog, Don)

  32. I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.

    And please send all hamburger invoices directed to my corporation, care of my bankruptcy attorney.

  33. If they post it on flickr they’ll be overwhelmed. Next step? Photographers paying clients for a chance to do the work. Jeez, I gotta find a better career.

  34. Another example of art directors finding a way they can avoid doing their job by passing the creative buck down the line. They don’t have to create anything, they’ll let photographers come up with an idea/look for free and they’ll still get paid. Lazy asses.

  35. Fuck you all, I don’t give a fuck what you all think. At the end of the day you need me, there will always be desperate photographers wanting the work.

    – Dave

    • @David Latcha, What a classy guy! Way to GO Dave! Testa di cazzo.

    • @David Latcha, LOL

    • @David Latcha, Wait… At least you’re admitting to praying on the desperate. That’s s start.

    • @David Latcha,

      David, you’re supposed to be in bed. Stop playing with those nasty boys and save the anger for your social worker.

    • Of course this just HAS to be the real David Latcha and not someone who typed in the name falsely.


    • @David Latcha,
      “Fuck you all, I don’t give a fuck what you all think. At the end of the day you need me, there will always be desperate photographers wanting the work.
      – Dave

      Rad. I’m going to make a shirt with that and it’s gonna sell like crazy. Thanks for the free idea.


    • @David Latcha,

      David, judging by the ludicrous request in your PDF, it is clear you need us, more than we need you.

    • @David Latcha,

      “I don’t give a fuck what you all think.”…

      maybe your client will when they find…lol

      • @tangier,

        but I could have easily written his name into the Name field and posted anything I wanted.

        I don’t know this man or anything about him, but until the owner of this blog confirms via email and IP address that it was David Latcha who actually wrote the post I’d give the man the benefit of the doubt.

        • @I’m not David Latcha, Exactly. If this is truly Latcha, I’ll eat my pixeled hat.

  36. Editorial Photography had a similar discussion in one of their “War on Photography”panel sessions at PhotoPlus Expo in 2004:

    They were talking about stock agencies getting into he assignment busines via the “On Request” model, which is pretty similar to what is being proposed here:

    “We have agencies cropping up with a new business model, one of which is a company called On Request Stock.

    Has anybody heard of On Request? It’s On Request Images. In this model and you should all know about this, it’s Client calls this agency with an advertising campaign; say they need 7 ads for Oil of Olay. The On Request Stock responds with a quote that is based on stock licensing fees with no expenses, no assignment fees, no shooting fees, no creative fees, just a stock licensing fee comparable to what a Getty or Corbis or other agency would charge.

    They get the go ahead, they assign the shoot to 5 photographers.

    These 5 photographers have 48 hours – 48 to 72 hours – to go out cast, get the props, get the wardrobe built the sets, get the backgrounds, do whatever they need to get the shoot together; 48 to 72 hours to deliver digital images to the light box at On Request. Those images are then edited and provided to the client. The client can then select from those images the images that they need.

    Out of the 5 photographers, only the photographer whose images are chosen will get a license fee and they only get 50% of the license fee, On Request keeps the balance and pays no expenses. It’s unlike any other business model.

    There are bad business models out there, this make every other agency on the planet look angelic. I mean, now you’ve got 4 photographers who went out and shot the job over a 72 hour period, delivered it, have all the expenses; they don’t get a dime, no expenses, no fee, nothing. ”

    More discussion at the url. Slimy business practices! Cheers, Michael

    • @Michael,

      OnRequest crashed and burned (along with that model because it doesn’t work) a while back. It still exists, but not as described. These days they seem to be producing stock libraries for large organizations.

      PDN wrote about it in 2007 as “revolution that never happened” (for the better, obviously)

      • @craig, Thanks for this link, Craig.

  37. In my experience, doing free work just earns you less respect and gets you more free work.

    I’ve shot test shoots for agencies but they’ve always covered expenses and paid a fee of some sort.


  38. As a stockholder of Ford Motor Company, I am going to make my displeasure with the unprofessional business practices at Latcha & Associates clear to the company. It is clear that Latcha & Associates cannot meet the high ethical standards sought by Ford Motor Company.

  39. As other people have mentioned, this is a free market, and if this agency wants to try to get photographers to shoot for free, then so be it. This being a free market, you do not have to do it. They aren’t forcing those are are so opposed to this to give away their hard work and talent for free. You can choose to say, “No thanks” and move on. An emerging photographer who really needs to get some exposure may think this is a good opportunity if the photographer can retain rights to their shots. Or a really bad photographer may think this is the big shot they need. Whichever.

    The e-mail response from the owner of the agency should be the nail in the coffin. Not having a website doesn’t make you a non-professional, but this e-mail certainly does. The illusory superiority of this e-mail would make me never want to do work with this agency. Ever. Maybe that’s because I was raised in the midwest, where we still have manners. As for Mr. Latcha’s last point, well, you are photographers. By discussing this topic, you *are* minding your business. Hmm…

  40. If you will work for free, why would anyone ever pay you? And why would they pay anyone else? Every time The New York Times or Dominos Pizza or CNN or anyone asks people to “send us your photos,” another photographer loses a paying job.
    As for David Latcha, what an asshole. He got busted and gets the publicity he thought he could escape. I would caution people to remember he is getting paid, as is everyone who works at his agency. And so are the people at the magazines and websites and cable shows and companies that want you to work for free.

    • @Stella Kramer, Amen…u said it best

    • @Stella Kramer, Thank you for reminding everyone of this very salient point. People –emerging photographers, people outside the photography biz, etc.– can find all kinds of reasons or justifications to respond to a call such as Latcha’s. But at the end of the day it really boils down to that: these people are all [still] collecting paychecks.

  41. Mr. Latcha should do a bit of research on who you are before he wrote his ranting missive yo you.

    He should have done due diligence to find out that you have a world wide audience that includes not only photographers but art directors, picture editors, designers and clients.

    Stepping aside from the issue at hand, Mr. Latcha comes off as a friggin blow-hard – just the type of client that I stay away from.

    The threat and anger in his email is pretty amazing.

    Good going on his part. Now every photographer worth his salt knows about this “opportunity” and the type of person Mr. Latcha is.

    If this is the future of the industry, I’m not following.

    What an idiot. He allowed his anger to get the better of him and now EVERYONE who matters in the car industry knows about it.

    What a fool! If I was a client looking for a new agency and came across this thread and commentary, I would not in a New York minute consider his shop for any work – unless it was a campaign all on spec with Mr. Latcha personally holding the bag for all the production costs.

    • @Cameron #2, yeah, pretty hilarious of him. I send him this rely:

  42. Obviously everyone who has commented on this episode is aware of the profile of how ugly this adventure is.
    The important thing to do is forward this to as many newbies, students and para professional photographers to explain to them the benefits or lack there of of this kind of approach to generating work.
    We all know people that could use this info so please don’t forget to share this and explain your positions why it’s such an egregious phenomenon.
    This is unfortunately either the norm or has the potential to become a regularly accepted practice.

    • @scott Rex Ely, That is what I was thinking.

  43. Hmm. I can just picture the Latcha agency meeting:
    Account team: so, what do you guys have for the new campaign?
    Creative team: uh, nothing much.
    Account team: well our client isn’t going to like “nothing.”
    Creative team: we did have this one idea…
    Account team: (eager and leaning forward on their seats) yes?
    Creative team: we’ll ask a ton of photographers to shoot some ideas for us for free…
    Account team: go on…
    Creative team: then we’ll pick something we like and present it to the client.
    Account team: genius. okay, let’s break for lunch.

    I have a better idea. Why don’t all the Detroit car photographers shoot something on spec, then pitch their ideas directly to the car manufacturer. Maybe they can steal the account.

  44. Hey Rob-

    It sure would be fun to see (and to show Latcha et al) the amount of traffic that this thread is getting. I also like #2 where Mr David Gotcha can’t find out who you are or your website. That harkens back to the days some of us readers thought you worked at the NYT.

    My hat’s off to you again for the bright light you have shining on our business.


  45. Mr. Latcha has made a complete fool of himself in front of a vast audience, not only of photographers, but of his supposed peers and even potential clients, because he thought he was speaking where no one that mattered would be listening. Talk about a self-inflicted wound. Revealing yourself to be a scheming unethical jackass on the internet is right up there.

    • @john mcd.,


      welcome to the internet age. we’ll mind our own business when you stop being a douche.

  46. but I could have easily written his name into the Name field and posted anything I wanted.

    I don’t know this man or anything about him, but until the owner of this blog confirms via email and IP address that it was David Latcha who actually wrote the post I’d give the man the benefit of the doubt.

      • @Guess the Lighting,

        I don’t know – I’m asking, what proof is there? There’s nothing stopping me from entering into the email field either – has the IP been verified by the blog owner?

        Again, I do not know the first thing about the man, and I am not saying he did not write it, what I am saying is that, unless I am missing something, I don’t see any proof that he *did* write it.

        Given that, I am also against Spec work but I think it’s best to give him the benefit of the doubt until there is confirmation that he did write it.

        • @I’m not David Latcha, I know David and he did write it and he is a douche.

  47. I wanted to see out of curiosity what they looked like, so I stopped by their website and I have one question. Why on their info page would they have such a horrible slogan ” Ready for some lovin’ from L+A’s oven? Call or email us anytime. We’ll be standing by with fresh, bated breath.” and in the graphic about the text is the words Breath & Mint?

    Are that bad that they need breath mints? Really? And then, I get visual of a guy standing in the lobby waiting on the client. He stands near the reception counter, plaid pants, white loafers and a yellow shirt, checker board tie with a matching plaid jacket saying, come on in… hocks a goober and spits into the fake rubber tree pot, we can make any kind of ad you need for cheap, we got some the finest creatives in the world hehe.

  48. Red flags all over the place here. An agency bereft of ideas and unaware of production costs. Not someone you want to deal with, client or supplier side.

    • My impression of the agency after visiting their web site was:

      Lousy Soundtrack that tried to give the Seinfield vibe.
      Stupid and I mean stoooopid video of the “creatives” on a trike, in a cowgirl hat (oh yeah, lots of cowboys and cowgirls there in Michigan, eh?) The oh-so-cool interior shot of the “associates”.

      Everything looks and feels derivative.

      There are some fantastic shops in Michigan. My impression (I may be wrong) is this is not one of them.

  49. Rob.. Anymore contact from David Latcha?

  50. ….pulled off their facebook profile. Wonder how often they do spec work for their clients……..

    There are four companies in the Latcha family:

    Latcha+Associates is the full service marketing company.

    Rocket Studios is the production/retouching/programming studio that turns Latcha’s ideas into reality.

    Shooterz is an asset development company that handles full CGI (stills and animation) as well as location and studio photography. They are awesome! Check them out at

    Hallwood Studios is the physical studio, capable of handling 3 simultaneous car shoots, as well as being a sound studio for film and video. Services also include car prep, vehicle rigging and metal/woodworking support

    • @Rick,
      Shooters are a bunch of hack photographers that couldnt make it independantly. All they do is ape others styles as directed to, … Kevin Pierce awesome?!? The guy is a hothead who has nervous breakdowns on set, just ask any assistant who is ever worked for him. Shooters is anything but awesome.

      • @Austin, I believe that was sarcasm. Unless @Rick was referring to the awesome watermarks in the portfolio.

  51. If the quality of their website it representative of the kind of work they do for clients then I would say they aren’t worth caring about too much. They seem to be operating at the lower end of their market. Worse for them as “creative” people, they don’t seem to be conscious of the negative impression their website creates. Looks like they have a nice facility, but for a “creative” business their website is very poor. There’s also not much there in the way of a portfolio of actual work to judge, just some short videos of the two principals and talking about how much money they’ve saved their clients, how great they are and how they can do everything you’ll need in house. It’s funny, though not quite in the way they intended.

    • @john mcd.,

      Funny, I was going to post the same thing.
      What if they use the $25M they saved the client and paid some decent wages to the freelancers they are inquiring.
      I find it fascinating how the agencies seem to forget how expensive a car shoot can be, even if the production is frugal. Maybe they are looking for hipster photographers with a point and shoot camera to “create a new look”? How about renting the specific car? Is the photographer going to go to the dealership and ask for a test drive? This is wrong in so many levels.
      The email Mr Latcha sent is so unprofessional, I wonder how he is even in business…

  52. Maybe we should start calling them “crowd-sorcerers.”

  53. Senior Ford Management is now aware of this thread.

  54. Basically, I sort of agree with the devil’s advocate guy in a way.
    We are in a business cycle in which companies are expected to generate more profits with fewer employees and less consumer spending (sort of a problem). Businesses will claim they don’t have money for stuff they used to because they saw someone else do something similar and get away with it. It’s up to photographers (not the businesses) to band together and object to cheesy practices for our own good.

    There are too many of us, for one thing, and none of us are willing to re-examine the idea that we are in our dream job. I started telling the latest crop of photomag frenzied newbies that say something about wanting to be a pro photographer to get passionate about something no one knows how to do, like operating particle accelerators. It’s a dog whistle alarm rationalized away as the words of a grump afraid of more competition — some truth to that, but it is the correct advice for most people none-the-less. It’s not that I’m so proud or immune…in truth, I’ve taken some gigs that may have been underbid just to stay working…but that’s a slightly different issue.

    The photography market will not rebound until pretty much all photographers (even the newbies) understand that working for free or on spec hurts their chances of making a living at photography in the future. There will always be people that will take the bait, but the sketchier (and fewer and farther between) the response, the better for the health of the imaging industry (and pretty much all industries in general).

    Maybe if they start getting a lot of shoots on walgreens free cd cameras, they’ll rethink the gimmicks and calls for free stuff.

  55. Btw, I should note that I don’t shoot cars (aside from portraits with cars in them) and am unfamilar with trends in that sector…just sharing my take on some trends in general. Perhaps the best way to vote against this kind of thing is not to send any work.

  56. Wow I loved his lame threats to you. What a fool. No matter: big ad agencies will be a thing of the past soon

  57. Look if the client can get photographers to work for free more power to them. Clients owe car photographers nothing.
    The reality is that they will not get good results and will end up hiring a professional.
    However this is not a Hollywood Union -we can’t bully them into paying the big bucks that car photographers expect.
    IF they get a great result it will be time for the entrenched reps and car photogs to rethink their situation.

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