Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Creative Opinion - Responses

This month's Creative Opinion question was:
What do you wish/think art buyers or photo editors can improve upon?

And responses were pretty similar: returning a call or taking a risk

- I would like to have phone calls and emails answered in a more timely manner. regarding an ongoing project or introducing myself to someone for the first time.
- I know it's a bit much to ask, but would love to know the real reason why I wasn't the one chosen for a project.
- I've heard this "but we are oh so busy" excuse, but in all honesty, how long does it take you to apply some professional courtesy and drop a 1 line e-mail?
- I wish Photo Editors/Buyers would take more chances on talent that they aren't incredibly familiar with.
- Whether the price isn't working or whatever the deal is, it would be nice to get an acknowledgment for our response to their inquiry and an opportunity to try convincing them of our value.
- a return call or email when you bid on a job - especially if you don't receive the job - is greatly appreciated. it's frustrating putting time and effort into a bid and then never knowing what happened. Were we too high, did they go with a different style, did the job get killed?
- Letting us know if we DIDN'T get a project without me or my rep having to call or email 10 times about a job we were asked to bid on. Most of the time when we aren't awarded, we don't even find out until weeks after a projects been shot. I know everyone's extremely busy, just a quick email would show some respect for our time.
- I'd like to know what might get a PE or buyer to work with new talent? Great work is a definite I'm sure, but beyond that what can a photographer do to start a relationship? I understand that often it means putting their neck on the line, but what might make them take that chance? Or is that a risk they don't take?

My response...
I can only answer for myself as an art buyer, these are my opinions only. I would however like to try and formulate some of the questions above to get a few anonymous art buyer responses (I'll work on this but can't guarantee anything).

For the callbacks:
I think everyone deserves a callback or an email. I am guilty as well of not returning a few phone calls... more often than not it is because I didn't get the call out within the first few weeks and procrastinated so it turned into a non-returned call. (sad excuse I know). I can say that I try to return all calls as a professional courtesy especially when it involves a job. The complicated part is calling someone who did not get the job and letting them know why - sometimes there is no answer.. the AD just didn't think the images jived with the project at hand and therefore the portfolio was cut from the running. Sometimes the images are just not good or not what the creatives wanted to see - the hard part of my job as an art buyer is placing these calls and discussing why you didn't get the job. I try to be as honest as possible in the most professional manner. I do think it is the responsibility of an art buyer or photo editor to take the time to make these calls in regards to projects.

As for the "too busy" excuse. We are busy and many times are juggling several projects, inquiries, legal clearances, stock photo searches, productions, and fielding calls and emails. I think if a photographer or illustrator is calling or emailing just to check in or see if there are any ongoing projects they could be considered for, give the art buyer/photo editor a few days or weeks to respond. Since these are not urgent they sit on a back-burner. Some people do not return these calls, I'm not sure of the reasoning, if it is too busy or if it's can't be bothered right now or having a bad day, but don't take it personally. I like to save Friday afternoons to make my callbacks and email responses. I think it is important to respond to these because it helps strengthen relations between art buyer and artist/rep. It doesn't hurt to send a follow-up to remind them but don't push the annoying envelope by emailing or calling on a weekly basis... give it a few months but continue to stay on their radar.

Taking a chance on new talent: it takes risk on both parts but even more than that it takes great work (whether photography or illustration). To get an art buyer/photo editor to take a risk on you, you have to have the work to back it up. Make sure you are a good match for the client you're trying to go after. I've said it before... I am a huge proponent of face-to-face meetings and think this can get you far. The art buyer/photo editor can put a face and a personality to the portfolio of work. This is a good start to forming a relationship with the art buyer/photo editor. We'll take the risk if you're right for the project.. and being right for the project means you have beautiful images but it also means you have a personality, creative mind and production value to back it all up.

I'll see what I can do to get other opinions than mine. I also appreciate the responses I received because it helps me be a better art buyer.
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