Eric Ogden 07.01.13

"You can't worry about pleasing everybody..." 

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Just Foolin’

Posted on: April 1st, 2011 by: Zack Seckler

If your fresh out of pranks today and just want to share a chuckle check out Awkward Stock Photos. You’ll find some truly priceless pieces here if you scroll through the pages.

Via @ramintalaie

Your Next First Stop

Posted on: February 22nd, 2011 by: Zack Seckler

Last month I got an email with “Love your work” in the subject line. Not that compliments work on me but I proceeded to quickly open the email and read every last work. What I found was a great idea:

The idea:

“Everyday we creatives are glutted with promos from photographers and illustrators and far more often than not, they get thrown out…it’s not that we don’t love their work, we do! but we have no place to file it all – physically or mentally. that’s why we made first-stop, a free and easy to use online showcase for photographers and illustrators. the site gives creatives direct access to the artists they want to work with, while providing a paperless alternative to the barrage of promos.”

First-Stop is in it’s infancy but there’s already piles of great work up there (including images from yours truly…not biased at all). The site has a somewhat addictive quality too…lot’s of great work accompanied by a clickable “stamp your approval” graphic which adds to an image’s popularity ranking and helps sort through what images you like. Most importantly, it’s good for the environment and easy on the photographer’s wallet! from matthieu brajot on Vimeo.

Marketing & Self-Promotion — Part Five

Posted on: February 9th, 2011 by: Zack Seckler

This series provides answers to questions that every photographer has about marketing themselves and their work to ad agencies. Each part in the series is an interview with a different art buyer or art producer about how they find photographers and what works and what doesn’t when it comes to marketing and self-promotion. Their answers are completely candid and oftentimes surprising.

If you read the whole series you’ll find tons of useful nuggets plus some interesting differences in opinion on what many (myself included) may have assumed to have been clear cut issues. Also be sure to read part one, two, three, and four.

Part four of this series is my conversation with Chris Buda, Manager of Art Buying at BBDO Atlanta, who’s been in the business for eight years.

Image from the AT&T Hands campaign by Andric.

Seckler: When you get a layout what’s your process for finding a photographer?

Buda: Every campaign’s a little bit different, and every art director works a little bit differently. Some already have a photographer in mind. Most of the time I’m providing suggestions that I think are right or, if no one immediately comes to mind, I find by combing through rep and source sites or books. It’s often a combination of a few things.

Seckler: Can you give an example of how you found a photographer for a specific campaign?

Buda: I guess one campaign that’s pretty notable is the AT&T Hands campaign.

Seckler: I thought you might mention that one, Andric, a photographer I’ve previously featured here on F STOP shot that right?

Buda: Exactly. That one was an example of having a good relationship. We had worked with Andric before on some other AT&T work. He and the Creative Director had an even longer history of working together. We collectively agreed he was the right guy for the job. That’s an example of one way of things going but it can be totally the flip-side. Something could come across my desk, that I don’t necessarily immediately have someone in mind for and I would go my various tagged sites or to sources like PhotoServe or BlackBook or flip through Archive or CA.

Seckler: Tell me about the sourcebooks, which ones do you like the most and which are most useful for you.

Buda: In terms of specific sourcebooks that I like to keep around, I think the At-Edge books are pretty cool, although they only give you a brief glimpse of the photographer’s work. They’re small, they’re easy to keep around and they’re updated throughout the year. They’re frequent enough to keep up with new imagery of the same photographers that you might be keeping tabs on. BlackBook and Workbook are good too, but honestly I found myself using their websites more so than the actual books themselves, just because it’s a little less cumbersome and more immediate to search online.  It’s also something I can do remotely. I also keep around Archive, CA and PDN.

Seckler: Do you gravitate more towards online portals instead of the printed pieces.

Buda: Yeah. So much is done online, it’s just a workflow thing.

Seckler: Is there anything you don’t like about the online sourcebooks?

Image from the AT&T Hands campaign by Andric.

Buda: They can be a little frustrating, honestly. I think PhotoServe is probably one of the better ones. I feel like a lot of times it’s depending on what the photographer has listed themselves as. And a lot of times what they claim to have as a specialty isn’t really accurate. You just run the gamut in keywords. Honestly, I find it most helpful when I’m looking for something that needs to be location specific. If I have to do something in a location that I need a local photographer, that’s where I find the online portals to be the most helpful. If I’m just purely looking creatively, it can be a little bit more difficult, to get to what I need.

Seckler: Why?

Buda: Just ’cause it’s such a wide net. If you’re not limiting by geographical area, then there’s a lot of people that can claim to be specializing in the different categories and actually aren’t appropriate.

Seckler: Photographers spend tons of cash advertising in Archive, Communication Arts and similar industry pubs…do those ads have an impact on you? Do you even look at them?

Buda: Yeah, you can’t flip through and not look at them. Obviously when you’re picking up the books it’s not to look at the ads first, it’s to look at what content was published editorially. But it’s like I mentioned with At-Edge, it’s a way to keep up with the new imagery.

Seckler: Photographers spend so much time and money entering photo contests, does a photographer who has a reputable industry awards under their belt in any way affect your judgment about hiring them?

Buda: It’s not everything but it certainly doesn’t hurt. If you see photographers that are consistently recognized, then they’re likely doing something right. Especially if you’re going into a situation where you’re with a new photographer or someone you don’t necessarily have a personal recommendation that led you to talking to them. It gives you peace of mind when you’re looking in the bidding process and considering moving forward with them.

Seckler: When you’re hiring a photographer how often is it based on a relationship that you have with them or their rep, and how often is it that you’re finding someone off of a promo, or through an ad or a sourcebook? How often is it relationship versus going in blind?

Image from a Georgia Pacific campaign by Michael Schnabel.

Buda: I’d say it’s a good mix, probably 60% relationship based, 40% not. Even if it’s a new photographer, it might be a rep or producer that you’ve worked with before. Triple bidding comes into play here as well, while culling down to the final three, it’s often a mix of familiar and non-familiar photographers.

Seckler: How do you feel about email promos?

Buda: It’s the first thing to get deleted if I’ve got too many e-mails to deal with that day. But I do take a look if the preview image sparks some interest. Then I’ll hit their website. If I like the website, then I bookmark it. So I think they’re helpful and effective, but there are a ton of them. They are deleted frequently.

Seckler: So you don’t look at all of them.

Buda: I look at what I can. And if the file size on them is huge or if they’ve sent me big attachments, and it’s filling up my inbox, then they’re immediately gone.

Seckler: Now what about mail promos, whether it be a simple card or something more extravagant…how do you like receiving those versus email promos?

Buda: It’s hard, because I really do like a lot of the stuff I get. I get some really pretty clever packages, and there’s a lot of stuff that I put up and keep around. But I do get so much of it that a lot of it has to go straight to trash or recycling. And that is aggravating for a few reasons. But I also just feel the pain of the photographers paying a bunch of money that – I can’t necessarily keep everyone around, so I feel like it can be a little bit of a wasted resource. It’s a bit of a double-edged sword I guess.

Seckler: Going back to bookmarks, how many bookmarks do you have approximately?

Buda: It’s a lot. It’s got to be easily over 100 and constantly growing. But categorized into different needs.

Seckler: And what percentage of those people have you actually hired for a job?

Image from a Georgia Pacific campaign by Michael Schnabel.

Buda: A lot of the sites are reps and whatnot so it’s not necessarily all photographers. It’s a bit hard to give a percentage but over the years I’ve probably bid with, I don’t know, maybe 30 – 40%.  It’s obviously a lesser percentage of photographers being awarded.

Seckler: Does a photographer having a rep matter to you?

Buda: No, not at all.

Seckler: It doesn’t matter in any way?

Buda: Sure, often times I find photographers through their reps but I wouldn’t base a decision on a photographer on whether they’re repped or not.

Seckler: Any reason?

Buda: No, not necessarily. As long as the photographer is able to turn around bids and be savvy in the bidding portion as well as the creative portion, I’ve got no problem going for a photographer that doesn’t have a rep.

Seckler: Great, thanks for your time Chris.

Buda: You bet.

Winter Waiting

Posted on: January 5th, 2011 by: Zack Seckler

As per the annual tradition F STOP will continue to hibernate for a little longer this winter.

In the meantime, if you can’t get enough F STOP goodness, browse through the over fifty photographer features in our interview archive and the dozens of exclusive blog entries from past months.

Be sure to add us to your RSS feed, and sign up for our monthly email Newsletter (look up) to be the first to know when we’re back with new content…or just check back with us in the next few weeks.

Happy 2011!

© 2010 Zack Seckler

Marketing & Self-Promotion — Part Four

Posted on: November 17th, 2010 by: Zack Seckler

This series provides answers to questions that every photographer has about marketing themselves and their work to ad agencies. Each part in the series is an interview with a different art buyer or art producer about how they find photographers and what works and what doesn’t when it comes to marketing and self-promotion. Their answers are completely candid and oftentimes surprising.

If you read the whole series you’ll find tons of useful nuggets plus some interesting differences in opinion on what many (myself included) may have assumed to have been clear cut issues. Read part one here, two here, and three here.

Part four of this series is my conversation with Doğan Dattilo, a Senior Art Producer at TBWA\Chiat\Day who’s been in the business for five years.

Art Production by Doğan Dattilo

Seckler: Please tell me your process for finding a photographer, what’s the first thing you do when you receive a layout for an ad?

Dattilo: Our department is constantly looking for talent. Not only photographers but illustrators and other artists. Even motion has creeped into our world a little bit, so we’re constantly exploring what talent is out there and what they’re capable of. Much of that happens by way of shows. We get a lot of promos by mail and by e-mail. Gallery openings. Essentially, we’re keeping up with the pulse of the industry. When we do get a layout, we converse with our creatives to get their thoughts on a concept. Kind of get their take on things. Once we’ve done that, we go back to our resources, have conversations with other art producers in the building who’ve done similar productions.

Seckler: So tell me, how large a list of photographers are we talking about?

Dattilo: That can depend on time, and the creatives’ approach to things. Sometimes it could be a list of ten to twelve, and other creatives want to explore a little bit, see what’s out there, don’t know exactly what direction they want to take it because they obviously realize a photographer’s going to take it to yet another level. So that list can be as big as forty or fifty. The one benefit I’ve noticed, especially over the last five or six years, is that we’re going much more digital now in terms of reviewing portfolios.

Seckler: So tell me a little bit more about how you construct your lists. You mentioned word-of-mouth, do you ever look at source books?

Dattilo: Occasionally. We have a lot of rep shows that come through, so we’ll all individually bookmark different reps that we like to work with. Honestly, I bookmark every rep. And I go back through that. I use a Firefox tagging system to tag the links of these photographers. If you tag them properly, you can very effectively search for what they may be looking for. Other people will, you know, still get all the promos from their mail. And keep them in a big box, and kind of flip through it. More like a postcard kind of thing.

Seckler: Do you look at sourcebooks online or in print?

Dattilo: I look at them online.

Seckler: Do you like print promos?

Dattilo: Yeah, but I would say we’re a tough audience to reach, because there are many, many photographers and artists who are trying to reach a small pool of art producers. I get, thirty or fourty promo e-mails a day. And then when I go to the mailroom, I probably have twenty, twenty-five printed pieces in all. I mean, to be honest I can’t look through all of them, much as I’d love to. And the other thing is, keeping them all would get ridiculous. You could build a mountain out of it. We use our interns to look through a lot of stuff. Other people that have different interests in the photography world will point out a promo that they’ve seen, throw it up on the island. So we’re all kind of communally continually looking for things.

Seckler: That’s a good idea. Do you know what percentage of, for example, e-mail promos you actually open, versus what you have to delete because you don’t have time?

Dattilo: Unfortunately, I’d say it’s pretty low. Maybe ten or fifteen percent. And that also depends on how crazy things are. If I’m involved in a shoot, I hardly look at any. And then when things slow down a little bit, then that’s a moment of trying to catch up on some of that stuff.

Seckler: What about print promos? Is it about the same percentage?

Art Production by Doğan Dattilo

Dattilo: Print promos, for me, go a little faster, because they’re isolated away from other work. You know, when you get a new e-mail promo, a bunch of them are scattered within a bunch of other e-mails you’re getting from everyone you’re working with in the building, or if you’re on a production.

And they almost seem to get in the way, more than the ones that end up in your mailbox, because we don’t get any mail or correspondence that really has to do with our jobs anymore except for promos. The occasional invoice, but even that’s all digital. So when I go check the mail, it is a box full of promos. So I can, at that point, at least flip through it. If I see things I like, what I normally do is put them on a pile on my desk, and then ideally go back through them and put their websites into my bookmarks.

Seckler: What really unique promos have you received that have left a mark on you?

Dattilo: I once got matchboxes with matches in them. I believe it was from a rep. I unfortunately don’t recall who it is at this point. This was two years ago. And it was an image — on the edge was a website of the representatives, and then on the larger face side of each matchbox were images of the photographers and artists they represented. And I think the key thing with that was, those promos actually permeated into my personal life because I ended up taking them home. Maybe by the grill or with the candles. So those promos actually lived at my house for six months.

Seckler: Did you end up hiring any of those photographers the rep represented?

Dattilo: No. I don’t necessarily think a promo will lead to a hire for specific job. It’s more like you end up on a list and maybe get selected for a future job. I think the key thing is, what it does for that photographer or those reps is… it keeps you top-of-mind. And the other thing is, we have a system here where each art producer works on a collective of accounts. For instance, I work on a sports brand, so I’m constantly looking for more sports-related photographers. And that’s not to say that we won’t get concepts that deviate from just sports photographers, but more often than not, knowing who shot professional athletes, those are the ones you turn to first.

Seckler: What about award annuals…first off, do you look at them?

Dattilo: Sure, we do get a lot of those books. We flip through them, we keep them around for a while. Although I try to live as digital and clutter-free as possible. A lot of other guys keep books around.

Seckler: Does an impressive award list make a difference for you in terms of pulling out a photographer, deciding whether to bookmark them? Does it have an impact on you?

Dattilo: I think it could, if from a conceptual standpoint it was their creative vision. Then yes, I think that would have an impact on me. And I think we see that more often in younger talent, that’s still finishing up school, that has not only had to shoot their own material but actually come up with a concept. And then you kind of see their entire brain working. Not that photographers aren’t creatively involved without a concept, but if they’re winning awards for ideas from agencies, I don’t know if that’s going to have as much of an impact on me.

Art Production by Doğan Dattilo

Seckler: That’s an interesting delineation. So, talking about younger talent, are you open to working with “emerging talent,” people who’ve been in the business only a few years?

Dattilo: Sure we’re definitely open to that. In certain circumstances it warrants it, and in other circumstances we can’t: you know, we do live in a world of creative and financial and client compromise. So if an opportunity presents itself where we can use young talent, we’re definitely open to that. We’ve looked for talent at various schools, sometimes help to connect them with industry professionals.  Ideally when we use younger or inexperienced talent, we surround them with a team, such as an experienced producer to help them through the process.  Shooting for yourself is one thing, shooting for a major brand with expectations is another.

Seckler: Let me ask you about motion. Have you have been working with more motion projects recently?

Dattilo: We haven’t worked with, necessarily, motion. I think it’s something that we’re keeping an eye on as the photography industry evolves, and technology evolves.

Seckler: So no real work in that area yet?

Dattilo: No, I think right now it’s an exploratory phase. Obviously we have a broadcast department that does all of our motion, but we are noticing a trend, especially going back to photographers’ websites, where they’re starting to do more motion. Delineating between whether or not that’s going to be in a broadcast capacity, or interactive and online, is something we’re continually keeping an eye on. I think, in the near future, there will be projects that lend themselves to a photographer not only shooting the photography but shooting some of the video as well, and I say video in a non-broadcast capacity. Then there are others that are more than capable of directing or being DPs on a broadcast level as well. That level of integration is slowly starting to happen.

Seckler: If you were a photographer what would you do to get in touch with an art producer at an ad agency?

Dattilo: Well, you know I have the luxury of not being in that position. It’s a hard question to answer. Honestly, probably a lot of what they’re already doing. I mean, much like any industry, it’s relationship-based. If we could have relationships with every great photographer or great talent out there, we’d certainly try to do that. We try to set up as many shows as possible. We have individual photographers who come in, just discuss what they’re working on, understand their personalities. But, you know some of that stuff needs to remain objective. We’d hire based on what we’re seeing on the page, instead of personality.

Seckler: Would you say that, of the photographers you hire, most of them come from having previously met them or their rep?

Dattilo: Yeah, I think at least having met their rep or us having had interaction with that company, sure. I think that’s pretty common.

Seckler: Could you throw a percentage on it?

Dattilo: I would say more than fifty percent, including those who we haven’t worked with directly but we have a strong knowledge of. A producer that’s worked with this rep, that’s worked with this photographer. You know, at the end of the day it’s really not our call. We definitely help with the decision making process, but it’s ultimately the art director’s call most of the time, and then again money and time. And clients will dictate some of that as well. We just at least try to put together a list of talent that will satisfy our creative needs while keeping in mind client needs and coming to a happy balance. Ideally the happy balance is as creative as possible. That’s the goal.

The F STOP at Fifty!

Posted on: November 1st, 2010 by: Zack Seckler

In the summer of 2007 I launched what I hoped would be a valuable resource for photographers like myself who had to learn about becoming a professional on their own. Since then The F STOP has grown into a resource for not only photographers but also those who hire and admire them.

As a photographer the focus is always on my work, on my career. Creating F STOP has allowed me the opportunity to give back to my industry. The experience has been a true labor of love.

I’m incredibly proud to look back at the now fifty interviews I’ve conducted with some of the most highly regarded advertising, editorial and fine art photographers in the world. It’s been an honor.

I want to thank all the photographers who have given me a snapshot into their lives and to the readers who have given their support and guidance over the years. Thank you!

Zack Seckler
Editor & Publisher

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