Suzanne Sease – Estimating An Advertising Shoot

After the post on “what to charge in advertising photography” received so much interest I decided to start exploring the topic further. A photographer I was talking with suggested I contact Suzanne Sease for more insight into the estimating process. As it turns out she was the perfect person to talk with about estimating an advertising job because of her background.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and how you got started in this business?

While I was in college I did internships at two ad agencies the first was with RMD (Richardson, Myer & Donofrio) now Grey-Kirk in Baltimore, Maryland. When I found out Hal Donofrio, CEO of RMD was good friends with Dave Martin, then CEO of The Martin Agency, I asked if I could use his name to get a second internship and subsequently landed an internship at the Martin Agency when I was a Junior in college. At RMD I was an intern with the art directors but fell in love with images so the Martin internship was in the print production department. I thought the visuals were so much more fascinating than what the art directors did. So, I wanted to be a print producer. And that is what I did when I first graduated.

What were you studying in college?

I studied Communication Arts and Design at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. I was in the interdisciplinary program that taught us how to be art directors, illustrators, graphic designers, photographers and video. I was in school from ’80 to ’84.

Really, does that kind of program still exist?

Yes, it’s at Virginia Commonwealth University and in fact a lot of graduates have gone off to do very well in the industry. A lot established art directors and creative directors were in the VCU program back in the 80’s. The program has been the precursor to the VCU Brand Center which has been getting International notice.

So, what happened after you graduated?

When I graduated in 1984, I went back to Baltimore and worked for a small agency as the print producer. It was great experience because I had to wear several hats like go on the photoshoots to work with the photographers and one client even requested that I be their account executive so I wore that hat as well.

Eventually I decided that I wanted to move back to Richmond and returned back in 87 but didn’t get a job in print production but in a position as a print project estimator for The Martin Agency. I was the print estimator which was the beginning and end of every single project that went through the Martin agency.

What did an estimator do?

Well, back then it was before everything was done on a fee base we had to estimate how much time the art director needs, the copywriter, studio art, photography, typography, how many xeroxes you would need. I was really entrenched in the whole project. It was really a great experience to understand what it took to do print advertising.

Then they created the Art Buying position in 1989 so I interviewed for the position and got the job. I trained under the amazing late, Linda Marso, then at Scali, McCabe & Sloves (now Lowe & Partners) I then worked for the next 6 years as the sole Art Buyer working all the campaigns until the department grew and they brought in Kat Dalager (now at Campbell Mithun) to run the department. I got to work on some amazing campaigns and with many of the great photographers at the time both of local and International fame.

In 1999, I decided to spend more time with my family and was looking for a career that would allow more flexibility. Bobbi Wendt suggested I should consider being a creative consultant. I gave it a shot and haven’t turned back.

Tell me about this book, The Photographer’s Survival Guide, that you wrote with Amanda Sosa Stone. I was just reading the chapter on estimating and it’s quite informative.

Amanda and I put together a program called The Photographers Survival Guide and we were going around the country giving a presentation once a month to associations and at one event there was a publisher in the audience and they approached us about making a book. We had this black and white xeroxed hand-out as well as a in depth PowerPoint Presentation that became the basis for the book.

First thing I want to know is if you are a photographer who’s never bid on a big advertising job but expect to be doing so in the near future what kinds of things should they be doing to prepare yourself for when that day comes?

The first thing would be to check out Blink Bid. It’s really the easiest way for a photographer to get a bid together and a great way to teach yourself. Blink Bid is a check off list to make sure you are not forgetting something and if your job has unique items you can customize them. I am beginning to think that this program will become the universal format that buyers will expect to see.

So, the first thing would be to practice by doing a fake job?

Yes and understand the verbiage. Like for example on the “real estimate” post you did someone in the comments was explaining what I call the Creative Fee for execution and usage. That is a term that all the big dogs use. It really comes in handy to lump the execution and usage together when you’re negotiating fees (as someone explained in the comments), but it’s also good for residuals because those fees will be based on the creative fee now instead of just the usage fee. In other words if you separate them out: $2,500.00 for shoot and $2,500.0 for usage residuals will be based on the usage fee of $2,500.00 not a combined $5,000.00 for a creative fee.

Another good reason for doing this is when, for example, you have a prototype or a product that’s new to market. Never do a shoot and usage because the chance of those products being held up is really great. When I was doing satellite art buying once the product wasn’t ready to come to market and I had to explain to the account executive that there was one fee to be paid and it was not the photographers fault that the product is not ready. So, I could not credit the client for not using it, as when you have a shoot and usage fee separate, but when they were ready to use it, they could for the negotiated two (2) years usage effective date of first use. And if it took them weeks, months or years, they had the rights from when it was first used. This protected the photographer who did all the work asked of him.

What I really want to get at is where do you come up with those numbers? The creative fee. How do you know what that should be?

Sometimes you can come up with those numbers by going to Getty Images and see what a stock shot is worth and use that as a parameter but there’s no real source out there for numbers because there are so many parameters go into an estimate.

What about the quoting systems like books, software and websites?

I have found that none of these are very reliable because there’s no experience of having done large advertising production jobs behind them. I think only someone like a rep, art director, photo editor or an art buyer can tell you what to charge.

Ok but there must be a source for the usage, right? The creative fee would grow the more experience you get and the more seasoned or in demand you become as a photographer but the usage is usually fixed isn’t it?

Well not exactly. I had a young client just a year out of school who I helped with his estimate and he was asking more than two seasoned photographers. He got the job because his estimate was so buttoned up. We spelled things out, how we would produce the job and we estimated for one division of a corporation that has International divisions. It has paid the photographer greatly and he shoots for them all the time now.

The estimate really has to speak the volume of how you plan to shoot a job and really shows your understanding of what it will take to execute the job.

As an art buyer I once had a job with Capitol One and I had to triple bid it and I had this one estimate where the producer was so good I just looked at it and said “this guy gets this job.” The other people bidding said “this can be done in post” but I didn’t want it done in post I had asked them to go get a prop and have the logo melted into brass and that’s what I had asked for. So don’t assume you can save money for the client when the client wants things the way they asked.

So, you’re reading into how they’re going to produce a shoot?

Right. The winning estimate was $100,000 more than the other two estimates and I got Capitol One to approve it because I told the creative director “this estimate will come under budget but the other two will be over budget,” because some people under estimate thinking the money will be there if you need it later when in fact the money is already allocated to other divisions.

I was reading in your book that you tell photographers they shouldn’t mark up invoices anymore, something  you say will be controversial. Why is that?

In a large production any Art Director or Art Buyer is going to ask for receipts. You are required to give receipts and bill exactly what you have. So, there is no room for markup anymore. That went away when the agencies didn’t get to markup invoices anymore. Agencies used to markup the estimates 17.65% and that’s when the photographers started marking up expenses as well. Those days have gone away. The other thing that’s gone away is agencies now days are not purchasing the media buy so you cannot base your estimate on a media buy, because half the time the agency doesn’t even know exactly what it will be. The agencies used to make their money off the media buy plus per hour expenses but now it’s becoming a monthly retainer. It’s all done on retainers now. There’s no little fluff extras anymore.

Ok, but there’s really no place to get a number?

You and I could come up with a chart with a whole range of numbers and you can post that.

Yes, let’s do that, that sounds really cool.

Now with regards to the estimate again how thorough do you need to be in describing how everything will happen?

In the example I gave you earlier where the young photographer out bid 2 seasoned photographers he was bidding against a team of photographers who were friends with the creative director. They did a pdf thing with these superimposed shots on how they would execute the job, but they weren’t where the client was going and they had second guessed it thinking they were for sure getting the job. The other thing I’ve seen is where this photographer had a 2 or 3 page dossier of how he was going to execute every single aspect of an image but forgot to include props, location scouting, wardrobe, casting in his estimate. I will tell you this, Art Buyers don’t read. That’s why an estimate needs to be clean, concise and to the point. They’re looking at the numbers.

And in that example I gave on my blog earlier the estimate was a little loose because the photographer was the ringer on the job so they didn’t have to worry about making everything super tight they just had to hit the number.

Well, I can tell you on a job where I did have a ringer that I knew was going to do it but another photographer actually won the job over my ringer because of the way he talked to the Art Director about how he was going to expedite the job. The Art Director wasn’t sure how to do a shot and the other photographer said “let me show you” and sent over a sample while on the phone. I actually had another job where a big name photographer withheld information and lost the job because he thought it was proprietary and they might steal his ideas.

When I used to triple bid jobs I would set the fee at fair market value then tell the photographers who they were bidding against and just make it about the production and the photographer who I thought produced the job best would get it. It wasn’t about the fees.

Also, I will tell you one trick I used once when I wanted Richard Avedon to shoot a job I asked to see the media buy which was in the millions of dollars and found 1 insertion in Ladies Home Journal for $40,000 and told the account executive I needed that insertion for my shoot and to ask them for the $40,000. The client agreed. My philosophy was always that running crap 6 times is way worse than running something great 5 times so lets spend the money that we need on production.

Ok, if I’m a photographer and I get the call tomorrow to bid a big advertising job and I’ve never done anything like that before, what do I do?

I do estimates for people and even have people in my back pocket who can do it if I’m not around.

So, you call a professional estimator. What does that cost?

I charge $150-$200 plus 7.5% of the creative fees if you get the job. That’s just for the estimate negotiation is by the hour at $150.00 per hour plus the percentage of the creative fees.

Are there a number of people who do this kind of thing?

I don’t know for sure (comment if you know some – rob).

I wanted to comment on a couple of things in that example you gave the other day. There are profit centers that photographers don’t realize even with no markup. The biggest one is Tech Scouting. There were two locations scouted with no tech scouting and let me give you an example of why it’s so important to do this. The location scout goes to 5 or 10 areas a day but the actual chance of them going to the area where the shoot will happen at the time it will happen is close to nil. I have been on a golf course with a client at 6 am because the photographer thought the sun was going to clear the trees then and we sat for 3 hours waiting for it to happen. If the tech scout had actually happened I would have had a lot happier client. So, that’s how you can sell it to any client and a lot of times it can be half of the fee. Also, digital capture and even something like an ftp site. I have a client who charges $1500 for an ftp site. Another area people don’t charge for is liability insurance. You can actually mark that one up because of the time it takes you to go get the certificate.

Right, so don’t forget to charge for your time and equipment on a shoot.

When you’re negotiating a job how do you make sure you’ve not left money on the table?

I don’t think you can ever know for sure except maybe when they say “yes” really fast. There are times when you may have left money on the table but you are building a relationship and you get people to realize that you are a good value. So, in the example you gave earlier, the photographer was within the budget and the client is coming back.

There are always people who out bid you, you have to show value for what you are.

Any last thoughts on pricing advertising photography?

You can never gauge something by another person’s success, because you don’t know how they got there.

Only walk in your shoes.

What To Charge – Advertising Photography

This was sent to me as an example of what people are charging now in advertising photography. You can certainly see they’ve trimmed all the fat out, which isn’t a problem if you don’t have a ton of overhead.

National Advertising Shoot

Bid number 2 comes from a Pharmaceutical job where the photographer had the middle bid, was not awarded the job and told the decision was strictly creative.


Here’s a couple editorial invoices for glossy celebrity lovin checkout mags. One is for syndication, next for a weekly and finally a monthly. Numbers look middle of the road to me.

Editorial Invoices

If anyone else wants to send examples I’ll black them out for you.

There are a lot of people in this business but damn few really good ones. — Hal Riney

The frightening and most difficult thing about being what somebody calls a creative person is that you have absolutely no idea where any of your thoughts come from really and especially you don’t have any idea about where they’re going to come from tomorrow. — Hal Riney

Screenings (here).
New York, NY
Fri. August 21 – Thurs. August 27 12:50, 2:35, 4:20, 6:20, 8:20, 10:20 p.m. IFC Center, 323 Sixth Avenue, New York, NY

Denver, CO
Fri. August 21 – Thurs. August 27 5:00, 7:30 p.m. Denver Film Society, 900 Auraria Parkway, Denver, CO

Chicago, IL
Fri. August 21 5:45, 7:45, 9:45 p.m. Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport Ave, Chicago, IL

Ryan McGinley – Jeans Photographer

From the sad but true and kinda funny category:
Levi’s is debuting an new advertising campaign shot by Ryan McGinley that looks very similar to a print campaign for Wrangler also shot by Mr. McGinley that just won the top prize at Cannes. Read about it over on Creative Review (here).


I’d say it’s a case of two jeans companies who are completely out of touch with the american youth who both saw, I Know Where the Summer Goes last summer .

Photographer Alexx Henry Shoots A Living One Sheet

Excellent video here from photographer Alexx Henry as he turns his normal One Sheet (movie poster) shoot into a living image using the RedOne.

I think this is such a great way to treat photography online where the shoot is still essentially a stills shoot the the results are not a video that suddenly needs a plot, sound, editing, graphics and on and on.

Visit his blog to see the web page with the final result (here).

Image Frozen In Time, A Commercial For Philips

Fans and purveyors of the “staged cinematic composition” style of photography will enjoy this commercial for the new Philips ultra widescreen Cinema 21:9 LCD TV. For the full experience including hidden behind the scenes outtakes watch it on the Philips site (here).

Director Adam Berg explains how he did it: “Shooting happened over two long days in Prague. The effect in itself is pretty straightforward and not as complicated as one would think. I would like to say that we came up with some spectacular new piece of equipment, but we didn’t. People are just standing as still as they possibly can when we move past them.” via Boards

APA’s Stephen Best on Omnicom’s “Pass The Buck” Fiasco

I received the following from Stephen Best, APA National CEO on March 21, 2009.

APA on Omnicom statement…“our policy has not changed”

The last week has seen ever-increasing concern and anger in the advertising community concerning a change in the way the Omnicom Group and it’s subsidiaries conduct business between Omnicom subsidiaries and suppliers. Advertising Photographers of America (APA) reached out for comment from the Omnicom Group about the crises. With the Omnicom Group being the world’s largest advertising holding company, a change in terms and conditions affects the advertising community on so many levels. The policy of concern is called Sequential Liability. Sequential Liability simply means that the agency only pays the suppliers after it has been paid.

Quoted from The Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP) published guidelines dealing with this trend:

“Certain agencies have inserted a Sequential Liability clause in their contracts. Others have added a side letter to be signed by the production company. Still other agency contracts do not overtly refer to Sequential Liability as being in effect, but do refer to the agency “acting as agent for” (the advertiser), which suggests the same thing.

If the agency is requesting the recognitions of a “principal-agent” relationship, then the client (principal) should not be released from the obligation of payment until total payment is made to the production company. It should be clarified that even if the client pays the agency, the client remains liable if the agent defaults in fulfilling the payment obligation.

Sequential Liability means that the agency as agent for its principal, the advertiser, is liable for payment to the production company only if the advertiser has paid the agency; otherwise the advertiser is directly responsible for the payment.”

On Friday, March 20, 2009, at 11:47 AM, APA spoke with Pat Sloan, Omnicom Director of Public Relations, to express the concerns of APA and others to the opposition of this policy. APA members are not able to finance major advertising projects and these terms and conditions are not acceptable. Director Sloan’s statement is that there has been no change to their policy on this matter.

Sequential Liability has been policy in the industry for many years. The reality is that advertising agencies, many are Omnicom’s subsidiaries, have provided advances and credit to production companies and photographers to begin awarded projects with substantial expense. “Business as usual” must continue was stated to Director Sloan. APA members, independent photographers and small business owners, are not in a position to finance commercial projects of possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars.

APA business practices have long promoted the inclusion of “statements of intent” to receive 50% to 100% of expenses before the start of a job. It is imperative that this practice continues without removal of advances by clients. Photographers should also include that the photographer owns the copyright and any license agreement must be paid before the release of images.

As creators of intellectual property, photographers hold the copyright on their images. It is imperative that registration of images be immediately submitted to the U.S. Copyright Office. Copyright law and licensing agreements with your clients provide you strong legal protection. APA recommends legal action only as a last resort but registration is needed to recover statutory damages and legal fees.

We must stand together and confront these terms and conditions because they are not in the best interest of photographers and their community of support. If only one accepts them, it will cascade and the role of advertising photographer will change to one of being a financial institution or bank for clients. We must not go down that heavily liable road.

The Omnicom Director of PR did promise to recommend a meeting to discuss these matters. It is APA’s hope that a meeting will be arranged and discussions will continue to a successful resolution.

As previously stated, BE CAUTIOUS and don’t be afraid to walk away. We must stand together.

Stephen Best

APA National CEO

Omnicom Group’s Bad Terms For Photographers And Producers

So, it appears that Omnicom Group doesn’t want to be responsible for paying vendors if the client hasn’t paid them. It certainly seems to be the trend these days where citizens are held responsible for corporations that can’t pay their bills but an advertising agency eliminating their traditional role as financier for advertising campaigns maybe signals an impending overhaul of the way business is conducted. It seems like some kind of insurance may be required to pull off a big budget shoot in the future.

Here’s the media alert ASMP sent out:

Omnicom Passes the Buck

It has been brought to the attention of the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) that the Omnicom Group, the world’s largest advertising agency holding company, has changed its terms and conditions in an effort to limit their agency liability and in so doing transfer that liability to independent photographers and producers. Basically, by disclosing their agency status and for whom they are acting, the advertising agency is only liable to the extent that their client has specifically paid them for any amounts payable to you. Additionally, ASMP has been informed that reps are being told that there will no longer be any advances on assignments.

These new policies are most probably the result of the market and governmental pressures experienced by major corporate clients such as GM who in their effort to avoid bankruptcy are now prioritizing their financial obligations and will make payment according to those priorities. In other words, some suppliers will be waiting significantly longer to be paid depending upon the client’s priorities. That being the case, agencies do not want to be left on the hook for reimbursement of monies expended on behalf of their clients, especially where the fear of bankruptcy exists.

These terms and conditions are simply not in the best interests of photographers, producers or clients. This action, clearly taken in anticipation of increasingly difficult financial conditions is a unilateral effort to shift the burden onto those who are least prepared to bear it. Should an independent photographer of moderate means be the banker for a Fortune 100 company? By eliminating their customary role as intermediate financier, agencies are removing value from the value-added chain, and that will ultimately lead to an overall dampening effect on commerce.

Meanwhile, there is no incentive for the agencies to make photographer friendly changes to their terms and conditions as long as photographers are willing to accept the current terms. Notice of these changes should be included in your blogs and discussed on related lists and social networking sites. The issue needs to become viral and requires significant support from key photographers in order to gain traction and effect change. If it is business as usual for the agencies, then nothing will be accomplished.

ASMP would recommend that photographers include in their paperwork a statement making it clear that there will be no grant of copyright license until all related assignment invoices are paid in full. Images should be registered with the Copyright Office immediately upon completion of the shoot and prior to first publication and/or possible infringement so that in the event that legal action – a last resort – is needed, recovery of statutory damages and court costs will be possible.

In addition, the Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP) recommends the following:

“If an agency’s internal policy insists upon these payment terms (sequential liability), the production company should:

a) Make sure the advertiser (“client”) also signs this agreement. If it is a rider, the terms of payment and the full contract price should be added to the rider.

b) Be provided with the advertiser billing and contact information.

c) Copy the advertiser on all invoices.

d) Notify the advertiser of payment due as soon as terms of the contract (payment dates) are not met by the agency.”

As a possible course of action, since the agencies are shifting liability to their corporate clients, perhaps photographers should consider approaching the clients directly for advances and or other payments prior to the beginning of the assignment.

Ultimately, this is a case of the supplier beware!

Eugene Mopsik

Executive Director, ASMP

Advertising CEO Meltdown

It seems everyone is enjoying how Peter Arnell was tasked with rebranding Tropicana Orange Juice and came up with packaging that consumers hated so Tropicana killed it after potentially spending 35 million dollars on the effort (here). This is only the latest in what will surely be many public beatings for companies that spend money on stuff that doesn’t work and the snake oil salesmen who convince them to do so.

I’m a little conflicted about the whole deal because it signals a return to zero risk at a time when most companies need heaping dumpster loads of risk to discover new ways of doing things. On the other hand you can’t buy this level of brand awareness with 35 million dollars so maybe the effort really did pay off in the end for a company willing to take a huge risk and attempt a makeover but then when the people tell you they don’t like it one bit scrap the whole deal. That’s pretty effing risky.

The most painful part of the whole ordeal is this leaked video where you can watch the jazz hands routine of Mr. Arnell hisself as he blows an enormous column of smoke up the Tropicana/Pepsi executives asses while explaining how they arrived at the packaging. Some of you know that convincing people why one thing is better than another takes more than just saying it and you really need a little bit of smoke and mirrors to get the job done but this one seems to be all smoke and mirrors.

Here’s a couple choice quotes:

“Historically we always showed the outside of the orange. What was fascinating was that we had never shown the product called the juice.”

“We engineered this interesting little squeeze cap here (which you guys can come up and see after) so that the notion of squeezing the orange was implied ergonomically every day when you actually went to the actual carton. The skin of the orange is replicated on the cap, and tooled in to the cap. The idea, of course, is to have a consistency between the purity of the juice (which is coming directly from the orange), the cap (which you squeeze every day), and, of course, the carton.”

And the video:

It appears that Peter Arnell is the king of advertising hyperbole. Here’s more.

How To Sell Cameras To Consumers in 2008


Buy advertising on a blog that covers creative photography (here) and as part of the deal ask them to commission a photographer (here) to shoot amazing potentially viral (marketing not medical) images (here) with their new camera (here) then watch as BoingBoing (here) and then other blogs run with the story.

Interview with a *Big Shot* Art Buyer

I like to think the discussions we have here about photography and the advice that’s dispensed is fairly universal but I know many of you are thinking “this doesn’t really apply in the advertising market and that’s where I really need to be, because this editorial shit is for the birds.”

Since I’ve never worked on the advertising side of this industry I called up a friend and offered her anonymity if she would speak honestly with me about that side of the business. You’ll have to trust me that this is a good source and I’ll go so far as to say, if you can imagine the biggest advertising agency in the country and the biggest “named” photographers then that’s where she’s worked and who she’s worked with.

[Side note on anonymity: Most corporate employees have to sign an employee handbook when they get hired that forbids giving away company secrets and in general publishing anything that has to do with the company online. They can use any evidence they find that you’ve done something like this to void contracts and avoid paying severance if you’re ever fired.]

I’m always telling photographers not to worry about the design of the promo, portfolio and website and just make it about the photographs because in the end it’s never going to have an effect on you getting hired to shoot a job. I think many of them take it with a grain of salt because they believe that this kind of stuff really helps landing the advertising jobs. Since I’ve never worked in advertising I have no idea if it does or doesn’t but now you can tell us.

Their photos are what’s most important, and then the “presentation” of their photographs. I can expand here, like I like to see one photo per page if it’s their “print” book (i.e, real prints). Otherwise, seeing an editorial spread is acceptable as long as they like the design. If they don’t, then they should just put a print in the book. Their website MUST be designed well, and this is very important for several reasons. One being, it represents their taste level, two, I want to see large images…not a lot of anything else, and three, the site has to be built well to move quickly around it… all very important. It’s how we source and present photographers to creatives (art directors, stylists, clients, etc.) It’s just like anything else these days, how often do you find yourself on line for anything? So, in my opinion, very important.

I think you’re saying with regards to websites, functionality is most important and design should be of a certain taste level.

Yes, that’s what I’m saying…functionality, designed tastefully, Mainly all about the photos.

With printed portfolios do you care if the case is unique or is the plain black fine? I have to ask because photographers always seem to want the physical portfolio to be unique. I don’t know why.

Love Black books…sometimes it’s appropriate to be different, rustic leather Brown if the photographer is let’s say someone like a Kurt Markus, or if it’s a quirky book, maybe white gloss bound leather, you know? But nothing more than that…it’s annoying when the cases are an ugly color. If it’s a good book and I want to work with the photographer, I’ll know where the book is….

How often do you use magazines to source talent? Does the “old saw” about photographers using cheap-ass editorial to promote themselves and land high paying advertising jobs to make a living fall flat these days?

It’s imperative for photographers to always shoot editorially. This is self promotion, because it’s more spontaneous and they can create images without all of the layers in the ad world. There’s less collaboration and more creativeness from the photographer. It’s a fine line…if a photographer only shoots advertising, then they become too commercial…if they continually shoot editorial and ad jobs, it’s a perfect balance. Magazines are where everyone (in editorial and advertising) sources photography. It’s the imagery that’s most current and creative.

Do you prefer working with photographers who have an agent? There must be more benefits to going with an agency in advertising then editorial where I think it matters less.

I probably prefer working with an agent because the agent is not as close to the image making process so it can be less offensive discussing fees with an agent then with the photographer. As far as the difference between editorial and advertising, there should be none, except we all know that ad jobs pay more, so the agents will get involved more, because there’s money to be made.

What’s the promo volume like at the agency? It must be twice that of editorial. 100’s a week?

100 a week? 100 a day!

100 a day! what do you do with all of them?

Throw them out. If I like the work, and the link is on the promo, I’ll bookmark the site…but I don’t keep anything.

What about email promos? Does the spam from the list services bother you?

Yes, and no. There’s less paper promos, more e-mails. I think they should never send on a Monday, maybe mid week, mid day.

Is it helpful if photographers target you based on campaigns you’ve done recently?

Sure, but we never really know what the concept is next…maybe they should target by brand, like technology vs. beauty vs. cars, etc.

I think photographers get disappointed with the idea that you need to see something close to what you’re trying to shoot in their book before giving them a big assignment but I find it difficult to redirect people away from their established style and I disagree with the idea that a good photographers can shoot anything. What are your thoughts?

A good photographer has their own style and can’t shoot anything. Nor should they want to…because they’re so good at whatever it is that they’ve focused on, that they’re not shooting everything. Take any great legendary photographer, they didn’t shoot everything, they had a particular style, focus, interest, and then made it their own. When you look at these photos, that’s how you know it’s theirs and not anyone else. Photographers reading this should ask themselves “are they passionate about what they’re shooting and do they recognize the difference of their own work compared to someone else?”

Do you think the printed portfolio will ever go away?

I hope not, it’s like a hard cover book. They can’t go away. Prints are beautiful, computer screens are not (They look good…), But there’s still something fine art-ish, museum quality about a print, or print book.

Do you use sourcebooks?

Source books are really helpful to brainstorm….if you can’t remember “that” photographer’s name that you saw or you just feel like you haven’t nailed calling in the right book….they’re really helpful, because it’s like a reminder of who’s out there. I use the source books not only for the actual photography, but just to scan agents names and who they represent. Then I know I’ve called in everyone appropriate for the job, not leaving anyone out.

What do you think about contests like PDN, American Photography, SPD, CA? Are they helpful for finding photographers?

I think these are great and I think they’re getting better. American Photography and CA are my favorites. They can help source….they’re just great as a reminder.

How influential is the client in selecting the photographer for a campaign?

We narrow down and suggest (usually three). At the end of the day, we want them to decide because they’re paying and take responsibility of their choices.

How important is photo-compositing in advertising photography and do you hire photographers who shoot everything “in camera” to work on campaigns that will need load of retouching? Why is there so much retouching going on?

You should ask a photographer this question….they are the ones that are becoming less of a photographer, and more of a computer tech person. I don’t think it’s because the client has asked for this… regarding retouching…it’s obvious….cleaner, prettier, more perfect…sells.

Can you cite any recent advertising photography that you think is brilliant? What are the recent trends in advertising photography?

Brilliant, no. There’s not a lot of brilliant going on unfortunately. Our clients are so involved that the images have become so watered down that there’s no clear direction. We are not allowing for the artist to create our vision. Regarding trends, it’s pretty flat right now. Not a lot of risk taking, may have to do with our current economy. Just a lot of mediocre images.

My readers have been critical of editorial photography directors for hiring from a narrow band of photographers and styles of photography and suggest that if we would somehow remove our blinders we would see all this great work that we’re not utilizing. Is there any merit to a similar argument in advertising photography?

Yes, but honestly, if you’re really hiring the right photographer for the job, that’s what’s so exciting, it’s just right. It doesn’t matter if they are a living legend or a new young gun… they’re just right creatively. Ideally, that’s how I present to the people I need to present to. Otherwise, I will ask what the criteria is from the beginning. Whether budgets, name, style…all things can be considered.

Any ideas on how licensing photos for the web is going to play out? Is it really going to make up for the lost revenue from licensing for print?

Lost revenue? I sense some bitterness. Yes, the internet has changed media buys. It’s become it’s own media, which will allow for similar fees.