George Lange: Artist in Residence at Instagram

by T. Brittain Stone

Instagram is a “thing” now apparently, and I like to examine the weird ways that it has shaped the careers of professional photographers and the people who hire them. So when a photographer from the 90’s heyday called me and related that he was working for Instagram’s in-house agency, I had to listen.

In the 90’s and early aughts, George Lange was a credit that you would come across with an almost alarming regularity. With a regular staple of magazines (EW, Fortune, Teen People, all the Condé titles) who hired him to shoot covers and big portfolios, George had a foot in editorial, a foot in Hollywood and yet another foot in advertising. While he was constantly on the prowl for the latest gear and welcomed new technology, nothing quite prepared him for the sweeping changes in the industry and how they would alter his career.

So he made a few life altering choices. He ditched New York and LA for Boulder Colorado, got married, embraced digital photography with gusto (he never liked film!) and worked on collaborations that might have seemed borderline insane (He’s Glenn Beck’s favorite photographer!). An incurable optimist, George’s mantra “the Work leads to the Work” carried him through some moments and eventually lead him into the offices of Instagram, where they basically made up a job for him… but not necessarily as a photographer.

As he is quick to note, his views of and passion for the Instagram platform are his own thoughts and not necessarily those of the billion dollar Facebook acquisition­­ which is why they are all the more interesting.

T. Brittain Stone: What your official title?

George Lange: My official title is Artist in Residence with Creative Shop at Instagram. It’s a position that they created for me. We’re trying to figure it out, and it seems to be continually evolving.

TBS: What does Creative shop do and who are their clients? And how do they pursue those clients?

GL: Creative Shop is the top creative group involved in paid campaigns at Facebook and Instagram. So when a brand buys a paid campaign as opposed to (doing their own) organic campaign, they get access to Creative Shop to figure out how best to tell stories on these platforms.

TBS: Are you pitching these clients?

GL: They already have great sales people. I’m in a place where I can think about how the creative will best communicate the story of a brand. That’s my niche. My piece of it is talking about the mushy emotional stuff.

TBS: What’s the origin story of this relationship. Was it a series of happy coincidences?

GL: I did a book almost 2 years ago called T he Unforgettable Photograph. It’s written for everyday photographers, not for brands. Instagram likes it… and they buy 500 copies. They gave it out at Cannes, Lyon last year. They called, and said, “the reason we’re giving (the book) out is because, what you talk about in this book, we’re trying to communicate with brands. What makes you special? What makes you unique? How do you tell the stories that you may not think communicate who you are? On our platform, those are the exact stories that you need to tell.”

They set up a meeting in New York. His assistant didn’t realize I didn’t live in New York. But the opportunity to meet Mark (head of Creative Shop) who I’d heard a lot about was enough to plan a trip there.

The first question he asked me is what are you in New York for? Generally, when you’re a freelance photographer, and you’re out of town you say, “Oh I’m in town for this meeting and that meeting. I didn’t say any of that. I said, “I flew in to see you. I wanted to meet you. Meeting you is important to me. … And we go into this meeting, and he just fries my sockets.

He says, “I’m not into talking about ideas, I’m into making stuff.” He’s really into dreaming big, and he fires up his team to do that. And he lives that life. The message: “How amazing can we be every day? “

I have this meeting with him and he said we’re definitely going to work together, and I go down to the street on Broadway, and I just look up at the sky, and I think my career has been based on three things: talent, confidence, and how big you can dream. I’ve had a great career, but I realized at that moment I hadn’t dreamt big enough.

TBS: So they’re interested in you as almost a “philosopher/ambassador”

GL: My wife calls it the “inspirator” and I love that. That’s not what they call me, but that’s what the position is. What I’m trying to do is the discovery work with brands. Rather than saying, “This is what GE did, and this is what Hermès did with their great (Instagram) feeds, I would rather go into the meeting after doing my research and say “these are stories that are happening at your company everyday that I think are really powerful.’ We’re not showing scraps of other campaigns, we’re showing them their DNA and what makes them different, special. I believe that everyone wakes up craving connection… And if you appreciate that these are human beings trying to be amazing every day, then a whole other thing happens.

TBS: You believe now for brands now that this space (Instagram) is totally necessary. They need to be able to do this and do it well.

GL: Instagram is largest photography platform in the history of Man. Period. There are millions of people sharing photographs on Instagram and growing. So forget about trying to game the system (to get followers). How do you find meaning and communicate in that place?

Firstly, it’s one picture at a time. Secondly, it’s a very intimate medium and you should feel like you are talking to your best friend. They are not screaming, they are not trying to talk to a stadium full of people. It’s one­on­one. And it’s a way of communicating that’s really powerful if you understand it, and if you use it like that.

TBS: And now you have to “think square”.

GL: It’s awesome. I love shooting squares now.

TBS: What are some of the visual cues that make pictures successful?

GL: I don’t talk about visual things that much. I talk about sensory things a lot. I believe that you should use all your senses when you’re taking a picture. I want to see how you are living your life differently, and I’m inspired by that, and that’s what I think Instagram’s about.

TBS: You’ve had a storied career, but you mentioned that things were getting scarce. You saw the landscape was changing. At what point did you say “ I need to shift gears”?

GL: No one comes to your door and says, “Hey, by the way the gig’s up, everythings about to change.” Those of us who had been successful working in a certain way were like ”But but but, this has been really good. I’m going to retire in ten years, can you just like hold on for ten years? That’d be awesome! This was supposed to last,” and it’d be great. But that’s not the way the world works. You don’t have any choice but to embrace change… and you stick to your guns, and you believe in who you are, and when things turn the corner and opportunities arise, it’s just exciting.

I’m not nostalgic about anything Certainly not film, and certainly not media. I was born a digital photographer. I had to do all these years shooting film, and I hated film. Everything about it. I hated the way I couldn’t get it to exactly look like what I wanted it to look like. I hated trying to light the whites on a white cyc for an ad shoot. I hated going through airport security. Film was a big pain in my ass. And then digital came out, and I was like, finally! I like things evolving. Life would be so boring if we were doing the same thing all the time.

TBS: Tell me a little about a campaign you’ve worked on with Creative Shop.

GL: I worked with Jon Iwata on the annual reports for IBM in the 90s. Jon is a legend at IBM and in the design world… and I loved working with him then.

I hadn’t spoken to Jon in about 15 years, and he now has about 4000 people reporting to him. He’s the VP in charge of advertising, social, corporate messaging, branding, the whole thing. I called him, and mentioned that I have this gig with Instagram, and he said “come see me right away.” He gave me an hour at the first meeting and then we had lunch for 2 hours up in Armonk at their corporate headquarters. As a photographer you don’t get meetings like that. But Jon always loved my work and loved the way that I appreciated what IBM did. He was a fan, and it was mutual, and he said, “let’s start working again.”

I ran the very first creative meeting with Creative Shop and IBM; it was this interesting role where I was on both sides. Generally, you’re hired by an agency, and they say here’s the creative and you hand in your work, you wash your hands and walk away. I was involved at the earliest stages of coming up with ideas fort the IBM paid campaign on Instagram. I shot it, and then was at the meetings where the work was presented.

I had this idea to do discovery at the IBM research facilities. Honestly, if you look at the places in the world that are doing the most for mankind, IBM is way up there. They’re making our lives last longer, they’re making our brains work so much more efficiently and better. They’re just super smart people that are given this privilege to work and think really big for long periods of time working on big problems. It was amazing to meet them and to start exploring how to tell their stories visually and on Instagram in particular.

It’s a completely different sensibility, and it’s something that’s relatively untapped. Most brands have not really gotten into sharing what I would say is the “good stuff.”

IBM has 400,000 of those people. If you just tap into the story that’s there and really appreciate it, it’s better than anything you can make up and more powerful.

TBS: It’s almost like you assigned yourself to shoot the campaign.

Derek Scott and Spencer Mandell at Creative Shop took the discovery work I had done and came up with a campaign that involved projections. They hired an illustrator who does really graphic work, and they had him build the illustrations in layers so when we projected on the subjects we were actually playing with the layers and moving them around so we could control everything. When people saw it, they thought it was done in post, but it was all done in camera. It’s a totally different vibe, with really minimal retouching. I think we were able to highlight some of these researchers in a more soulful way than they have been seen before.

TBS: When you speak to photographers, how do you suggest they integrate Instagram into their careers?

GL: I’m just a couple of months into this; so I’m figuring it out too, but the opportunity that I see is that all brands need to be communicating on Instagram. It’s a powerful opportunity for great photography and really smart people to tell really good stories that have gotten lost before this platform existed. Where it’s going is that really good photography and really smart people telling really good stories are going to be required.

Many brands right now think that creating content on Instagram is the way that kids in high school are creating content, which is just going out with a phone and snapping.. hiring the interns because they grew up in “social”. At Creative Shop, they’re really encouraging their clients to spend the money on great photography, high production values, and well considered campaigns – which is great news for both image makers and story tellers.   IG feed: @george.lange


Images from a set I built at Cannes Lions 2015 for Instagram Marketing


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This white set (inspired by the great Martin Margiela stores) was for Instagram at AdWeek in NewYork 2015

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Ice bucket Challenge redux





Projection images from the paid IBM campaign on Instagram.

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Microsoft Instagram Feed Launch Shot By Justin Bastien

During my various conversations with reps and photographers about Instagram assignments and campaigns exclusively for social media, I picture genial hipsters wandering the globe with their friends and iPhones. Recently however, Jonathan Feldman, owner of Massif Management, regaled me with tales of a major social campaign he wrangled that seemed more like an extreme sport. And as harrowing as it may seem, perhaps it is the shape of many campaigns to come.

It began with the fact that Microsoft happened to have a barely utilized Instagram account, and the Edelman agency pitched them something novel. Instead of talking about “product and software” on their Instagram platform, focus on passionate people in small business and tell their stories. Pitch accepted, the agency started the work of selecting a group of 30 remarkable, but not quite famous people from all over the world that had done exceptional things and had compelling stories behind them. And of course they had to find someone to make all those the portraits, only not with an iPhone. This is Microsoft after all.

Adventure photographer and director Justin Bastien got the call while he was on a granite cliff on the side of Mount Whitney–a professional hazard since he is a world-class rock climber–where he was directing a commercial shoot and scaling the rock with his characteristic nonchalance. This call though actually made him nervous. The job was intense. 30 different portraits in 10 (non-adjacent) countries in about 8 weeks. The whole project would roll out in real-time on Instagram and officially launch the feed.

I spoke with Justin not long ago after he had caught his breath from this epic assignment:

T. Brittain Stone: How did you end up getting the call?

Justin Bastien: It was a friend of mine at an advertising agency who knew a photography rep that had this assignment for an agency that had a client. It was like 5 layers removed. My name came up I guess from several people. The call went something like this, “so, there’s this project I thought you would be a good fit for and you come highly recommended. It involves traveling around the world shooting a variety of subjects from fashion, sports, science, adventure and wild animals… are you alright with shark diving in New Zealand… shooting bears in the jungles of Borneo?”

TBS: When did the project get awarded? How did you guys negotiate it?

JB: It was actually a really long process. Initially there were 5 other photographers, and this was all over the course of about three weeks getting closer to the launch of the project. I’m stressing out. It went on and on and finally got down to three of us….

Jonathan Feldman at Massif Management managed (the process). It was my first time working with him! They had a fixed number, and we had to come up with a scenario. So we had to adjust licensing based on shoot days and travel days based on that number. And they were asking me for more portfolio work and asking me how I would approach specific problems and how I would approach specific photos and about workflow. So there was a lot of back and forth in the selection process. Neither the client (a marketing exec at Microsoft) nor the agency had actually done something like this before.

The campaign was called the Do More campaign (#DoMore), and it was really focused specifically towards launching their Instagram feed… but they also wanted to feed it out to their other social media.

TBS: Did they consider your social media prowess or number of IG followers?

JB: I’ve never been the big time social media person at all. I post stuff when I feel like it, just stuff that I like.

TBS: How did they find the subjects?

JB: It was people that knew people that knew people… and also interesting people that were coming up in the news and showing up in social media, and they just reached out to them. The concept was to have some global coverage.

TBS: And the connection to Microsoft?

JB: It was like “You use technology, and you probably use Microsoft’s and there’s a Microsoft component to your life. It was a shift away from product focus and was more about people and what they do.

I have to say, every person was really impressive. Their passion, their intellect, their history, their story. Sometimes I’d ask, “how could this person be compelling?” and you’d meet them and you’re blown away by their journey and their passion for toothbrushes or aortic valve replacements or fashion or sharks.

TBS: Give me some numbers and an idea of what the production and the crew was like.

JB: We did 29 unique shoots in 10 countries and flew over 40,000 miles. And each picture went to over 12 million viewers on all of their social media platforms.

If we missed one connection during all of the 40,000 miles we flew, we were going to miss one of our subjects. Only one person cancelled. We only lost one bag!

I worked with these two really great Edelman folks, Kate Shay (Creative Director) and Christopher Swanson (Art Director), and it was their idea. They conceived the whole thing, pitched it to the client and won the whole deal. They were so awesome to work with. I almost felt like we were in art school again, like we were in finals for 3 months. And we had this crazy deadline, and we had no resources.

TBS: You had no assistant. Was that a budget choice?

JB: I have no idea to be honest. It was hard for me to even fathom… some hoe along the way… I mean, I pushed for it and pushed for it. Could you imagine, right? The AD, CD and producer would help me carry bags in, and once I started lighting, everyone helped out as much as they could, but I would say, “Hey, could you feather that light and throw a 5 degree spot grid on that thing?”, and they’re like “huh?” I’ll tell you I became real fast at lots of stuff.

The visual challenge was pretty immense in some of these locations. You’re showing up with duct tape and wire and you have maybe 2-3 hours to capture a minimum of 4-8 setups. We didn’t have locations or hair & makeup or anything. You make the most of it. Chris and Kate were really great at collaborating with me on coming up with visual solutions.

TBS: So one basic question that every photographer will ask is did you have to think “square” for all of the shoots?

Oh gosh yeah, absolutely. It kind of was a drag because I prefer to use prime lenses and use longer focal lengths when I can, and a lot of times, I had to use a zoom lens and had to go in a lot wider, like at 24 or 35 which isn’t great for portraiture. We were in tight spaces a lot of the time and it was really tough to accommodate the square format and do environmental portraits.

TBS: That is a challenge, and then you’d have to consider the other formats?

JB: I was focusing primarily on Instagram, those were our “hero” images. And then we had to have secondary and tertiary images that would go out to Twitter (at 2:1 aspect ration) and Facebook (at 12:6.3), and the blog could be in any format.

TBS: To think in all those different formats while shooting, maybe you just don’t think?

JB: Ha! No you have to!

So the turnaround on these things was so crazy. We would drive for 4 to 5 hours, do a shoot, drive for another 3 hours, edit till like 4 a.m. and then have a “meeting” at 6 a.m. with the agency (back in the U.S.) go through proofs, and I’d get request later that day. I’d have to process and “color” all the images and get them back before my next shoot at 2 p.m.

I’d be in the back of the car, connected to my phone, sending images and working them in Photoshop and Lightroom then export it again with GPS coordinates and metadata. This campaign was happening in nearly real-time.

TBS: How did the final selection process happen while you were on the road? Were you pleased with what hey chose?

JB: When you’re shooting for a medium like Instagram, you’re competing with all these other wonderful images out there and all this other information. Plus the pictures need to be really strong visually. And so I was really pushing hard to go with interesting lighting, composition, and so on. But there’s a certain conservative nature to the campaign. We had to make sure that the client and the agency would approve it.

TBS: Did you get numbers on engagement? Was there an ROI, or metrics that you got back on the road?

JB: Well, the IG account went from basically zero to over 100K to date and growing. I would say that is a pretty successful engagement.

TBS: Did you feel like you got a lot of exposure out of it since you were featured as their photographer? Was it all worth it?

Oh yeah.
I think it’s one of those things where in the end when you look back on it, it’s really cool, but while you’re in it, you’re so sleep deprived and tired. And there are there magical moments in between… and then it gets super heavy again and exhausting. Then there’s this great person you meet and you’re all energized, and then you realize you haven’t slept in three days, and there are three deadlines that are past due.
But are you kidding me, I’m jogging on the beach at sunset in Hahei, New Zealand. And diving with sharks today and I’m getting paid?

Sal Masekela
Sal Masekela skating the back alleys of Venice Beach, CA. Photo: Justin Bastien
The crew from FOUREYES style blog in Auckland, New Zealand. Photo: Justin Bastien
Tyler Armstrong and his father on the Devil’s Backbone. San Gabriel Mountains, CA. Photo: Justin Bastien
Tyler Armstrong on his way up the Devil’s Backbone. San Gabriel Mountains, CA. Photo: Justin Bastien
Justin Bastien hiking through the ruins outside Cusco, Peru. Photo: Chris Swanson/Edelman
Riley Elliott from Shark Man TV free diving with a Mako shark. Hahei, New Zealand. Photo: Justin Bastien
Riley Elliott in his natural environment. Hahei, New Zealand. Photo: Justin Bastien
Ana Dodson from the nonprofit Peruvian Hearts. Cusco, Peru. Photo: Justin Bastien
Ana Dodson visiting the home of school girls from the Peruvian Hearts Foundation. Cusco, Peru. Photo: Justin Bastien
Ben Jacobsen, artisan sea salt maker. Tillamook, Oregon. Photo: Justin Bastien

When Instagram Success Leads To Advertising Assignments: Lauren Lemon

“I’ve hustled to get meetings at some great agencies,” she says, “but it’s honestly the creative directors and the people who are following me on Instagram that I’ve gotten work from. They’re seeing me post every day, they’re commenting on the photos, I’m seeing them like the work. I know that I’m staying on their radar, and it’s not just a follow-up email after a meeting that’s fed into all their other emails: it’s what they’re looking at when they’re leaving work and going home.”

Which is, of course, the same reason brands want to get in on Instagram. As Randolph says, “People are flipping through it in their in-between moments, when they’re on the go, in bed.” So what is it that makes a successful Instagram post? “It should feel personal, like someone’s looking at something that you want to share with them,” she explains. “I think the most successful Instagram photos are the ones people feel like they can take themselves.”

Read More: PDN Online.

Repping Instagram Photographers – Tinker Street Mobile

Paul Octavious for Mercedes
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by T. Brittain Stone

We’ve all heard about Instagrammers with huge followings that can bill $5000 a day for clients like American Airlines, Best Buy or the Israel Ministry of Tourism. And when you read interviews with said IGers, they are pretty gushy about “sharing their experiences” or “creating a visual diary” while doing some terrific product placement. And I for one think that’s great.

But what does that look like on the business end of these deals, and how does an agency manage the creative process of these campaigns? Below, artists rep Jesse Miller will give you a glimpse of this burgeoning (big) business. His agency Tinker Street is the first to have created a “mobile” division, and he now has built a behemoth roster of many of Instagram’s most followed talent.

And so perhaps one would imagine that the cozy community fabric is bound to become a cynical business with reps poaching talent, agencies demanding metrics for pricing out ROI, “like farming” and unfathomable copyright issues. But talking to Jesse, is well, rather uplifting, and the organic way that his business has developed is a testament to the fuzzy notion that friends can collaborate and be creatively successful.

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T. Brittain Stone: How did you guys start the mobile division and when did it all happen?

Jesse Miller: I started Tinker street about 6 years ago, because I wanted to get back to my roots. I started as a filmmaker and an artist. Tinker Street was a way to get back to that creative center. It began as a small intimate collective of 6 friends, and it was just 6 folks who were doing photo art shows together and then bringing that whole vibe–which I saw the need for it in advertising. We did well with some youth culture work initially.

We expanded the main roster to be more inclusive of some of the things that I like and am interested in with healthcare and technology.

After a little while we noticed that brands were encroaching on the Instagram community, so it was pretty seamless for us, in the regards that our agency is all about friendship and good creative. Michael O’Neal {ed: 571243 followers} was such a big part of that community and so are some of the other folks on the main roster.

It’s that feeling of friendship and camaraderie, and also working together out in the field and supporting each other. Ultimately our goal is to provide across the board content, and have a bunch of people out there in the field.

TBS: I hate the word collective, but there is a little bit of that aspect.

JM: There is. But I like the word in the old sense of the collective like the Man Ray sort of collective… true artists’ collectives. It was inspired by that spirit and it’s always stuck [with me] along the way.

TBS: with a lot of technology thrown in.

JM: Yeah it’s a hybrid of art, ad collective.

TBS: You were always dialed into the ad world, so you had a lot of contacts there.

JM: Yeah, I’ve been doing it for a long time. (Corbis, Marge Casey, individual photogs). I started way back as a PA for film & tv commercials, while myself studying and making films, shooting stills, and doing street art—so starting my own agency was a to go full circle and get back to the creative that was dear to my heart and try to bring that vision to advertising.

One of the things we pride ourselves on and work really hard at is to make sure that there’s a balance. We’re doing big brands, but we’re also doing Save the Children, we work with UNICEF, [and] we’re doing a lot of music collaborations. A start up label and we love their music? Sure we’ll do it for cheap. I keep it balanced that way, and really push folks too to keep working on personal projects.

TBS: And someone’s getting paid at the end of the day

JM: I think that the brands pick up on that, when there’s good creative energy, they’re attracted to that. [If] that turns then making some money so you can put it back and you can take some time off to do some more personal projects? Yeah it’s great. With Instagram, we look at it like it’s another tool in our toolbox,

TBS: do you have competition now, people representing Instagrammers, possibly trying to poach people from you?

JM: Not so much, not what I’ve seen. From what I’ve been exposed to everybody’s really collaborative. Mobile Media Lab, they’re great. They bring projects to us.
We just worked with Laundry Service… and Niche. Everyone’s been really supportive of each other.

TBS: You have 50 “mobile” artists Is there advantage to scale for your business

JM: I think that in general, the core group, everyone on there knows each other so it like a really big family of friends. So it starts there. Secondly, its happens regionally. That’s the interesting thing about Instagram. The few things that maybe differ a little and harken back to the editorial days,[is that] assignments can be relatively sort of fast and quick, and regional. And then others are bigger projects and location is not such a big factor.

TBS: Like travel photography…

JM: The (Instagram) community really values travel photos, and when you see the level of engagement on the travel pictures alone… they a love good landscape, that’s for sure. I think that it was pretty natural for tourism board to gravitate there, and they were some of the first folks that we saw encroach on that space.

hirozzzz for Alberta 1×1

TBS: How do you refer to your Instagram group? Do you consider them artists, what’s the nomenclature?

JM: I just say photographers really, or artists. Photographers, yes, but a lot of them are working in different mediums. “Content Providers” feels a little technical and stiff, but that’s kinda what we are, and at the end of that day that’s what we’re going for. But we’re sort of “eclectic” content.

TBS: All this sounds much more organic and I was preparing a lot of questions that were a little more cynical… but it all sounds so pleasant..

JM: I’ve been at it for a long time, At this stage of my career, it’s about refinement and being with the people I want to be with, and enjoying life, because advertising can get really stiff as we all know.

TBS: How else do you onboard photographers. How do they approach you?

JM: It’s all of the above. People send me promos, I get a lot of emails from new photographers, both traditional and mobile. I see a lot of people who have seen us on Instagram. Or photographers who know the original roster. So it’s a mix and its pretty constant. We get a lot of taps. I really try to get back to everybody too even if I have to stay up to the crack of dawn.

TBS: Thats noble of you. Is Instagram for business gaining wide acceptance in terms of the agency world. Are they already aboard or still getting aboard?

JM: There is a swath, a range of people who are involved. There’s stand alone digital boutiques; there’s brands coming to us directly, and then there’s agencies getting involved. It really depends on the agency, because some of them have in house boutiques that are very savvy and know what they’re doing, and other ones are asking a lot of questions. It doesn’t matter who it is thats approaching us, the thing that recurs in a good campaign is really well thought out creative, a good solid creative brief… the ability to collaborate, to listen and ask good questions, and for us to do the same.

The Mercedes campaign ( is a really good example of that. Razorfish in NY did an amazing job with that campaign. They prepared very well; it was very early on; it was a very new frontier and they asked a lot of good questions to the people who were in play in that community. It was a great collaboration.

Paul Octavious, Mercedes
Paul Octavious, Mercedes


Michael O'Neal Mercedes
Michael O’Neal

TBS: What do agencies consider when selecting a photographer. Do they value the followers most? How does that chemistry come about?

JM: For our group, the thing that we have to offer is that we are a group of friends and we are familiar. Looking back on the campaigns in the 9 month existence of that division, a good majority of the campaigns are multiple folks on the campaign. It lends itself very well to that community. They know each other, they’re following each other.

TBS: It’s like a road trip

JM: Right, because who wouldn’t want to go on a road trip with their friends? When we send 5 to 7 people out, they all know each other and hang out even when they’re not working.

TBS: So when you get a creative brief, you can assemble a little team….
JM: Yeah it does work that way, where they come to us with some rough creative choices, and a few other (Instagrammers), we’ll just shuffle it around where we know who fits best together and who knows each other.

TBS: it all sounds too good to be true.

JM: For me its highly enjoyable. At the end of the day, we feel super fortunate. It’s such an amazing time — this moment in history for advertising and for media — to be involved in this. It’s amazing to watch. For me personally too, to get the privilege to be a sort of conduit between traditional media where I spent a lot of time with old school way of doing things, and this new guard coming in with all the social and what these young kids are doing. Pretty amazing to be in the middle of it.

TBS:. Do you analyze metrics for your Instagrammers’ followings? Do your clients have numbers they’re trying to reach?

JM: People talk about that. We try not to get too involved in analytics, because at the end of the day the thing’s that is going to be consistent is good creative, smart creative, and something that has some depth to it. So that’s where we’re coming from.

TBS: How many on your mobile division are professional photographers?

JM: About half of our main (professional) roster is on Mobile. What’s very interesting that we’ve seen lately, is photographers who don’t necessarily have a high follower count on Instagram, have been getting hired for social media projects. So for example. Matthew Reamer shoots for Converse Rubber Tracks and SXSW, and a lot of what he’s doing is going to their social channels. So it doesn’t necessarily matter all the time when the projects come in whether somebody has a lot of followers or not.

We have a client right now who wants both. Based on the subject of the activity of what’s happening, they want somebody based on their expertise on that subject AND they want some high count followers. So it’s a combo. That guy who has the expertise is on the main roster. So you really see the old and new media, it’s really morphing. If we’re going out and shooting on a tandem broadcast shoot, me might have one person doing BTS video and another person shooting for Instagram. Some people just shooting for the client feed and some doing to post to their own feed so they can leverage their followers.

Its really become a hybrid of all kinds of platforms and resources. I really like it a lot. I like the idea of people collaborating that way instead of it just being strictly, oh this a film set, oh this is a tv set, this is a photo shoot cool. It brings a lot of different personalities together.

And I might refer ( a client) to the mobile roster and then send then to that person’s site, because a lot of the people who are exclusively on mobile are also shooting DSLR. So they’re crossing over to what traditional media people would be doing. I’m pitching them for traditional projects as well. In that sense it’s kind of one big agency.

It’s opening up more. But definitely the people on the main roster who don’t have large followings. They’re not as much getting social projects, unless its just content for the client’s feed.

TBS: That following has got to be a very powerful slice of your portfolio. I would think that advertisers would certainly want that. Can I ask about negotiating tactics?

JM: The interesting thing to know about the fee structure is that its structured very similarly to traditional media, in the sense that we factor in everything, the usage, and the usage terms, the scope of the project, the timeline, what the social media asks are, who the photographer is, and what level they’re at, scope of budget… All those factors contribute to the project, and we take it project by project.

TBS: How does the copyright part work on a campaign like Barbour by Finn Beales (

Finn Beales Barbour Heroes
Finn Beales
Barbour Heroes

JM: Again its a lot like traditional media in that we’re licensing the images. As artists and photographers, and me being an artist originally, I’m always fighting for the photographers rights. So we really don’t do work for hire, well It’s a very rare occasion that we do work for hire. It’s all based on licensing.

TBS: Are there other agents building mobile divisions? Or just managing their rosters’ social feeds?

JM: It’s hard to say. I’m sure there’ll be more popping up as we move along. I think everything is swinging in the direction of digital and social. At the end of the day, like you know cycles in history, as much as everything changes, some things always stay the same, and the thing for us that will stay the same is good creative. Good thoughtful creative. That’s what we strive for.

TBS: Do you constantly have to worry about the next thing? What are the things you’re thinking about strategically down the road?

JM: Coming from filmmaking as a background for, me because I’m biased, I speak to video quite a bit because its think it gonna be future terrain. I really believe in video.

But the way that I see it, and the way I talk to my folks is that you should do what you like, because if you don’t like doing it, even if its valuable in a moment, because its trending, what does it matter if you’re not happy? And I also think that if you’re doing something you don’t like, you’re gonna be less attractive as a person, just the energy you put out. We’ll always keep finding different ways to create cool work and do it with our friends and try and do it gracefully. I think theres a lot of possibility with advertising for the future to be less competitive and more collaborative. And for people who are in power in the new platforms to really create a new environment where it can be about collaboration and good creative. At its best, advertising can be amazing.

TBS: Pet theory. Photography itself no longer just a specialized skill, it’s a life skill, that anyone, especially anyone in creative, you need this skill set. You should study photography, take a photo class.

JM: I think you’ve hit on something thats really interesting because if we look to the younger generation, everybody is so computer literate and device literate. Its the development of a new generation. And always there will be these generation gaps. And the people younger than us, they’re learning so much so quickly. So I think in that part of their world, these devices are a big part of it. I think you’re right; picture taking is becoming a very mainstream way of communicating, in general. Not just or ad work. It’s even for little kids.

Its a total new generation, and it all life changes, and obviously advertising follows life and vice versa.

TBS: You need to be able to take good pictures.

JM: We strive to be kinder and gentler. There is definitely a foundation here that has to do with what I learned at traditional agencies, so that’s true. for me change and growth are paramount to keeping things real. And to become fuller people. We want to continue to be involved in innovation and hopefully we’ll do it gracefully.

Paul Octavious for iheartradio
Paul Octavious for iheartradio
Emily Blincoe for Warby Parker
Emily Blincoe for Warby Parker
Withhearts for Warby Parker
Withhearts for Warby Parker
Lucio Bracamontes for Burger King
Lucio Bracamontes for Burger King
Daniel Seung Lee for Burger King
Daniel Seung Lee for Burger King
Paul Octavious for Hermes
Paul Octavious for Hermes
Finn Beales for Barbour
Finn Beales for Barbour
Michael O’Neal for Vogue
Michael O’Neal for Vogue
Michael O’Neal for Mercedes
Michael O’Neal for Mercedes

Usage and Pricing of Photography in Social Media

By Suzanne Sease, creative consultant

Many photographers and photo editors have asked me to look into rates for social media use. I reached out to Suzanne Sease for the first of what will be a series of articles looking into the pricing and usage. – rob

When Rob asked me to reach out to Art Directors and Art Producers to get an idea of what photographers are charging for social media, I got a surprising lesson. Since I was an Art Producer for over 20 years, I am very fortunate to be able to reach out to those currently in the field. To get a more complete understanding of pricing I spoke with people from traditional advertising agencies to social media ad agencies to in house corporate ad agencies. These businesses were all over the country from large to small cities.

I found quite a range in pricing with free use from amateurs to inexpensive stock to photographers shooting original content making the best rates. Several articles I found mentioned clients taking the ad budget for TV and allocating it to social media to use the free venues (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, Vine, YouTube to name a few) to promote their brand. Because these venues are free, clients sometimes put little value in paying for images. Many have social media marketing rolled into use by asking for unlimited. Some said they spell it out like consumer print, social and internet because they don’t need trade. If they don’t have a great budget they will not ask for unlimited because it is print where the money is spent and social is thrown in.


Many clients doing social media only are looking for stock and a Senior Art Producer at large top agency I talked to said they pay as little as $50.00 to $65.00 per image for use with top brands. The images were anything from a scuba diver, grandfather and grandson fishing, a campfire, sandcastle on the beach, and cows grazing that were shot well. These images came from Getty, Masterfile, Corbis and Shutterstock.

One Creative Director at a social media advertising agency said they felt that places like Flickr, Tumblr and Instagram were going to make a photographers business harder while another Senior Art Producer said that Flickr was a dangerous alternative, because releases are not filed and determining if the person who posted the image is actually the true owner of the copyright can be difficult. They said they will only work with known stock companies because their contracts protect as well as indemnify their client. Another Senior Art Producer at another large International ad agency said they recommend clients purchase royalty free images from $300 to $500 each so they can use it forever. They also said that banner ads would price between $500 and $700 for year with a rights managed image. If they used rights managed images for social media, the range is $300 to $500 for the year.

There are some photographers who have positioned themselves to work on social media campaigns. I interviewed one photographer who has been asked to do many social media only campaigns and the fees have a huge disparity because of different client budgets. On the high end, they got around $8,000 for 6 shots in 1 day of shooting.On the low end was $650 for one image/unlimited usage. They said that most clients are looking for quick images that do not have the detail and production value of a print shoot. On the average shoot, the client wants up to 25 images with social media use only for around $5,000.

The best way to position yourself is to be on a retainer for a client so you can shoot when the client has an immediate need (sometimes in real time). This goes for about $10,000 a month for social media use only.

A Creative Director at a social media ad agency said they would pay $500.00 for a one image shoot with lasting 2-3 hours total (pre-pro, shoot and edit). This is how fast clients want to get their social media marketing up. And for shoots when they need 15-25 images in one day, their client pays $2,000 max. Some clients will have usage based on time but more and more are asking for unlimited.

An example of the speed of the images needed, if you remember during the 2013 Super Bowl when the power went out, it was the ad agency for Oreo (360i) who sent this tweet out and it was advertising gold. It was because usage had been covered in the original negotiation that allowed them to tweet it.


Kit Kat just surpassed Oreo at Apple’s expense with the “bending” iPhone 6 plus.


And then there is Real Time, where someone is hired to shoot and send images out as they are shot. The fashion industry likes to do this as well as brands holding an event to get more people to the event. In this situation they will pay about $1,000 to $2,000.00 per day plus expenses for a full buyout.

Finally and unfortunately in some cases advertisers are starting to use everyday people to add to their social media marketing to give their brand more attention. They are not paying for the rights to use those image.


Here are some interesting articles I found:

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s, after founding the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies. She has a new Twitter fed with helpful marketing information believing that marketing should be brand driven and not specialty. Follow her at SuzanneSease.

She is presenting with Kat Dalager Market Right 2014 in NYC on Wednesday, October 29th

Nick Knight on the Changing Face of Fashion Photography

Nick Knight on… the appeal of Instagram

“Having a phone and an Instagram account means that I can create images on my own. When I first started using it a couple of years ago, it reminded me of the 70s, when I first started out in photography. It felt very direct – it was about me taking the image. It felt really authentic. I don’t have a Twitter account because it’s essentially about writing and my focus has always been visual. Instagram felt like the most appropriate way for me to communicate. I also really enjoy the instantaneous nature of it – you can publish images straight away – and get feedback from people across the globe. And I’m really interested in figures who have huge followings – such as Kim Kardashian, Cara Delevingne and Lily Allen. People have so much power to put out a message direct to their fans. It’s almost like when magazines were in their heyday – a printed publication would be where you could get celebrity images. Now it’s been reversed and the next generation is one that is used to getting information from digital mediums. The Diesel campaign acknowledges that and feels completely relevant. This is an exciting time – things are changing and I always think change is good.”

via Nick Knight on the Changing Face of Fashion Photography – Culture Talks | AnOther.

The Power of Social Media – Grace Chon and JJ Miller

by Suzanne Sease

In full disclosure, Grace and JJ are former clients, who I still keep in touch with to see how they are doing. I always want my clients to do personal projects from their heart and it can create an amazing path you never expected. I am an avid Redditor, I think it is a great venue to get your work out there as well as many other ones.

Here are their stories of the “Power of Social Media”

Grace Chon “Zoey and Jasper”


I started out sharing the “Zoey and Jasper” tumblr page with the editorial contacts I already had, reaching out to magazines I had worked with in the past. I really pushed the tumblr page and instagram with the media, since everyone seems to be complaining these days about the functionality of Facebook Pages, but Facebook was also a huge in helping this go viral.

On Thursday April 10th I shared the tumblr page with a huge dog magazine I’ve worked with regularly called The Bark. By Friday morning, it had 4,700 likes and 1,080 shares. I also sent the link out to a magazine called Koream Magazine, and on Friday they started to publicize it. All all the other huge Asian American media channels started to pick it up – like Hyphen, Angry Asian Man, Audrey Magazine, and more.

The Korean American founder and curator of a My Modern Met saw it on Saturday and immediately reached out to me for an interview that afternoon. Within the hour she had it up on the site and she told me that all the major news sites follow the site like The Huffington Post, The Daily Mail, Yahoo, The Today Show, and Good Morning America, just to name a few.

Within a few minutes of it being up on My Modern Met I had an email from The Daily Mail and they had it up by Sunday.

Come Monday morning on April 14th, my inbox was jam packed with media requests! Suzanne also very wisely recommended that I upload the link to Reddit, and it was picked up by users and made it onto the front page. The images also ran on The Huffington Post, Yahoo, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Buzzfeed, Mashable, People, PetaPixel, and Bored Panda, along with countless international websites in countries like China, Taiwan, Brazil, Germany, Finland, Italy, France, Peru, Colombia, Serbia and Portugal.

On Friday April 18th, the images aired on The Today Show during the 4th hour with Kathie Lee and Hoda. They closed out the segment while discussing (and giggling!) over all the images.

The dust has now settled a bit, and now I have 18,500 followers on instagram (started at 550) and 18,000 followers on tumblr (started at 0!). My rep Kim Knight has been going on portfolio shows and she’s finding that the creatives are already familiar with the series. Zoey’s original rescuer in Taiwan also miraculously found us, after waiting 7 years to find out what happened to the tiny puppy she took care of. All I can say is wow! The power of social media.

JJ Miller #wewillrun

The #wewillrun was originally pitched as an idea to a client and after their decision not use it, I couldn’t stop thinking about the story and the uplifting message. The project became personal for me and I needed to film it instead of letting it play in my head.

I reached out to the team members of my production company and colleagues that I had collaborated with in the past. They all signed on enthusiastically once they heard the message. The crew included: DP, Jeff Melanson, First Assistant Camera, Nolan Ball, Co-writer and Narrator, Rich DiMare and Produced by Alexandra Bettencourt.

I uploaded the #wewillrun video on Vimeo, and the posted a link to it on Facebook and Twitter. We also sent out a press release through PR Web. The first day it got around 1,000 hits and then there was a write up on the website and soon got about 24,000 hits. The same day the BDCwire post it on Readit. I’ve worked with Reddit before on other projects. However, this experience has only strengthened my understanding of how much impact sites like Reddit can have. 

The next morning my email blew up with multiple interview requests, and #wewillrun was trending on top of Facebook and Twitter. That helped the video get shared on a global level, generating nearly 160,000 views on that Thursday. In the following days, it got national press appearing on Fox News, CNN international, and many write ups from sites like the Hollywood reporter, Buzzfeed, ESPN, Elitedaily, Bleacherreport, NESN and many more.

In three weeks on the day of the marathon #wewillrun had been played 449,000 times. When Rich and I sat down to write the script, we wanted to create a message about moving forward. When we read it over, something just felt right gooesbumps. Most of all, it’s been very humbling to have people feel similar emotions.

Director Jesse Rosten On His Fotoshop by Adobé Video

by Grayson Schaffer

If you need proof of the career-building power of social media, look no further than Jesse Rosten. The 31-year-old TV-commercial director lives in the small, Northern–California town of Redding and has spent the last eight years producing spots for local clients like casinos and colonoscopy clinics. Then last month Rosten uploaded a fake advertisement for a non-existent beauty product called Fotoshop by Adobé. The two-minute clip is a commentary on the beauty and magazine industries’ reliance on retouching. Launched with a tweet and a Facebook post, Rosten’s video quickly racked up more than 5 million views between Vimeo and YouTube and made the rounds on the media industry websites. Grayson Schaffer spoke Rosten about what went into this production and what Rosten thinks he got out of it.

Grayson: What sparked the idea for this clip?
Jesse: I was watching an infomercial for some beauty products with some “before” and “after” photos and it just looked like the “after” shots had been retouched. I thought I should do a commercial for Photoshop because it seems like that’s all the beauty industry uses anymore. It’s that whole photographers’ refrain, “Fix it in post.”

Grayson: There was some serious production that went into your project. How did you pull it together and fund it?
Jesse: I’m a commercial director, but I’d never worked in this particular genre before—fashion and beauty. Everyone involved volunteered. We had two make-up artists, a hair person, and four production people. The camera lenses were all donated, and I’ve got some of my own lighting gear. The biggest out-of-pocket cost was buying food for everyone on the day of the shoot. It wasn’t super expensive; it just took a lot of labor.

Grayson: How did you convince everyone to get on board with this?
Jesse: The first thing I did was write a script and put together a storyboard. I’ve worked with lots of these people on other paying gigs so they’re always up for a good time. The crew had been in other viral videos I’ve done, so at this point they’re sort of familiar with my crazy ideas.

Grayson: What were you hoping to get out of this?
Jesse: I just hoped people would find it funny—a snarky message directed at the beauty industry and Photoshop users at large. But I also realized that the more this looks like a real commercial, the funnier it’s going to be. So while it is a satire, and there are elements of parody, the funniest thing about it is that it’s all true.

Grayson: Now that it’s blown up and has been seen by several million people, what has it done for your business?
Jesse: Yeah, my inbox has been a mess—a lot of inquiries and interest. I haven’t turned it into any paying gigs yet, but now I feel like I can justify putting time and resources into this. On the one hand, this project was something I wanted to do to stretch myself as a filmmaker, but it has also been good marketing for my work.

Grayson: You said that you had done some other viral videos?
Jesse: Two years ago, I did a video called iPad Plus Velcro which had a little bit of success. Apple actually picked it up, which is unique because they usually have a very specific brand aesthetic. And then this same crew helped me produce another video called iPad Photoshoot, where we took nine iPads and did a shoot using the iPads as a light source.

Grayson: Were you able to get Apple to fund the second video?
Jesse: No, I tried to milk it, but I never heard back.

Grayson: Do you feel like you’ve cracked the code for what it takes to make a viral video?
JR: Yes and no. I don’t think I’ve cracked the code, because at the end of the day you really don’t know when something is going to go viral: You don’t create a viral video; you create a video and then it goes viral. But at the same time with this Photoshop thing, I knew that it was a current topic and that its novelty gave it serious viral potential. But I never expected it to get as big as it did as fast as it did. In less than 24 hours, it had half-a-million views and that was before it had been written up on any major blogs.

Grayson: Was that like a mainlined shot of adrenaline?
Jesse: I would be lying if I said I wasn’t sitting in front of the computer hitting the refresh button and watching the view count go up every ten minutes. It’s nice to know that something you created is resonating with people.

Grayson: What is your specific line of work?
Jesse: The paying gigs are commercial direction. I work with agencies and sometimes directly with clients to direct, shoot, and edit commercials. I’m also trying to break into narrative filmmaking?

Grayson: Anyone cool you’ve worked for in the past?
Jesse: Honestly, I’m not a big-name-brand director. I’m self-taught and self-employed. It started with local car commercials eight years ago, and I’ve slowly worked my way up to hospitals and casinos and government-type jobs. In the last two years I’ve focused more on working with agencies that have their own client lists.

Grayson: Surely clients understand what a rare thing it is for a director to generate five million views without a budget? The YouTube versions of most SuperBowl ads don’t rack up those kinds of numbers.
Jesse: Well that’s always been my thing because I haven’t had a lot of resources. One of the things I like most about filmmaking is creative problem solving—whether that’s coming up with a creative story or coming up with a creative way to make due with few resources. Right now I feel like I can do anything with a camera and a few worklights.

Grayson: So what’s your advice to people who are where you were eight or nine years ago. Can social media kick open the door?
Jesse: I think so. Twitter and Facebook didn’t exist when I started. But my advice would be just to continue to create. There’s really no magic formula for this sort of thing, it’s just a lot of hard work. Your first project is probably going to suck, but every time you take on something new and push yourself a little further you learn something. Eventually you’ll start creating work that you’re proud of.

Recent Facebook Changes Are Bad For Professional Photographers

Facebook announced and new photo viewer that they’re rolling out for all their users in the next couple weeks that allows you to upload 2048 pixel wide images to your page. That’s an 8 time increase over the old 720 pixel limit and seems like a boon to professional photographers who use FB to connect with their clients. The viewer also provides a nice way to page through an album of images.


Inexplicably they’ve decided to include a link on all the images that allows users to download the high res image. This seems like it would be something you could turn off as I could not imagine a professional photographer wanting to allow viewers the ability to download the images but there’s no setting in the privacy controls.

National Geographic

If that’s not bad enough one of my readers (Marco Aurelio) alerted me to a change to the business pages (here) that now prevents you from placing links, photos, albums and video albums on the front of any Facebook page. Additionally the header images, now front and center, are chosen at random.

Let’s hope there’s enough protest to these changes that Facebook remedies the situation. They’ve done that in the past so I hope everyone makes a big stink about it.

UPDATE: My readers have pointed out that you don’t actually have to upload high res images to Facebook so really it’s not a big deal if you know what you’re doing.

A Unique Way To Fight Photo Theft By Corporations

Aspiring Pro Photographer Gustav Hoiland discovered that one of his images was being used without his permission by Saint Gobain Marine on their website. Since most corporations now monitor social media he decided to document the infringement in a video and throw it up on YouTube. He figures this is a unique piece of leverage photographers can use to fight corporations.

While I know there have been some infringements on Flickr and the photographers successfully used social media to shame the companies into doing something about it, I’m not so sure this is an effective way for a photographer who wishes to pursue a career shooting for corporations to resolve infringement. Social media works both ways and google never forgets. This kind of thing will show up when corporations are looking for photographers and it will have an effect on the hiring decision. Of course if the infringement is substantial it doesn’t really matter but in the smaller cases it seems like a long way to go for a little payoff.