A fellow art buyer posted the following question on a forum that I thought I would share here. How do you feel about reps asking "Who else is bidding the job? And what other photographers are we bidding against?"
There were differing opinions. Some felt it was fine to share and be honest, others felt it was better to keep it to themselves until the job is awarded (thinking more photographers and reps will be more competitive in their bidding).
Another comment was that "it should be an even field, they should be estimating/bidding based on the project, not who they are up against."
The reason why some art buyers will not share the information is because they are looking for a true competitive bid. Some feel that photographers might pull out of the bid process if they feel they have a disadvantage with people they are bidding against(which has and will happen). Another buyer mentioned "not sharing this information at the beginning of the process can help assure that production budgets are not being compromised or shared between competitive photographers/reps before a final award decision."
Here's the deal... Most art buyers will be honest with you in the bidding process because while we are working for the agency and ultimately the client we are also an advocate for the photographer. Whether or not the art buyer is comfortable sharing the competitors information is a side note. We'll give you the budget up front if we know we have a number that we have to hit. Otherwise it's a normal bidding and negotiating process. What we normally won't share is where the numbers are coming in between the competing bidders.
As for my opinion, I don't see any harm in sharing the information of who is also bidding on the job as long as the parties are responsible with that information.