Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Delayed posting...

I'm a traveling queen this week and unfortunately have a busy schedule that I can't keep up with postings this week.

I love the responses to the State of Stock post from Monday... I will most certainly follow up with a post on this answering questions and backing up opinions.

Other things to look forward to very soon:

Creative Opinion
follow up from October 6 - answers and opinions.

More personal projects to share - these are always fantastic, keep sending me stuff.

5 thing I like and don't like - I'll think of something, whether it's meetings, promos, reps, stylists, productions... dare I say it... clients (stay tuned).

I'll keep thinking of other things to come up with and share with the creative community and I encourage all of you to do the same.

Want to throw a question at me, get an opinion, or touch base on something I haven't thought of - You can email me here.

Cheers and chat soon

Monday, October 27, 2008

The State of Stock

PDN reported [here] last Thursday that JupiterImages has been acquired by Getty.

Today it's being reported [here]that Corbis is taking a hit with the economy and therefore are cutting the royalty rates it offers to their contributors (at least for rights managed).

With PhotoShelter having closed their stock house doors, Corbis cutting back, and Getty owning almost everything where does that leave the contributors who want other options. The microstock market offers images for a dollar - what royalty can they offer?

If stock imagery is still being purchased, which it is, and agencies want good images where do they head?

I still think individual photographers should offer stock imagery in addition to being commissioned for shoots. If the opportunity is there I say take it, especially since you get all the royalties and there isn't commission being paid to anyone but yourself (and you rep if you have one).

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Suffering from a head cold today I left work (a freelance gig) early for the comfort of pajamas, cold medicine, and perhaps a nap... however being pretty busy, I feel like I was shirking some of my responsibilities.

What happens when you have a personal issue to address yet have work responsibilities you need to deal with as well? One ends up taking a back seat to the other unfortunately. The problem is trying to juggle personal things that pop up in addition to the work. Have a cold.. take the needed nap/rest and work a few extra hours in the evening. Have a larger personal family issue... talk to the people producing the job and open the lines of communications to find out if there is some wiggle room.

Most assuredly people will understand when you have personal things come up. Most people realize that everyone has a life outside of work where things come up and issues need to be handled. We all make it work out in the end and balance responsibilities.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Clients more and more want to have exclusive imagery... this is a good thing. And I should clarify that I don't mean proprietary but instead they want the usage to cover their needs but also to have industry exclusivity, meaning a competitor will not have access to the same image.

By definition exclusivity means excluding all but what is specified... and this is where you should pay attention. Because more clients are enlisting this term in their usage parameters it means you should acquire, in some form of writing, what that actually specifies. For example, if you have a financial client looking for financial industry exclusivity, does it include credit, 401k, banks, investment firms, etc.? The more info you have, the better understanding you have of the clients terms and expectations, this way you don't have a breach of contract or any confusion.

Also with the exclusivity and getting all the information about what it entails means you can adjust your fee appropriately. Depending on the contract it may refer just to the imagery and talent or it might mean the client doesn't want you shooting for a competitor for the length of their usage - knowing exactly what the expectations are allows you to be completely prepared with both production and creative fees.

Friday, October 17, 2008

5 Things About Phone Calls

Calls can be tough especially as a freelancer trying to get your name in with an agency, art buyer, photo editor, or any creative. Mail and email are easier because they are so much more impersonal. I like calls... granted I don't always have the time to get the calls or spend hours a day chatting with artists (while it is part of my job description I'm also responsible for a boatload of other things) but I do enjoy the calls.

5 things I like:
1. Staying on my radar/quick check-in - this doesn't mean call me every month but a twice a year check-in following up on a portfolio review or promos sent in, keeps you in mind.

2. Casual conversation - I like the casual and slightly more personable calls than direct sales call which can come off as pushy. Telling me what you're working on and asking how things are going at whatever agency is a great approach.

3. Directing me to a new personal project or artist show - I love to hear about things like this that might be considered outside of the advertising realm. Especially if you're doing a show in my area that I might not have heard of... but a personal invitation or update about a project I might be interested in is definitely welcome.

4. First time caller approach/schedule review - best way to do this is to leave a quick message or if you actually get a voice, to schedule a meeting or portfolio review. Cold calls don't really work if the art buyer/ photo editor/ et al. is not familiar with your name or your work.

5. Talking about your artwork - I love to chat about the photographs and recent work you may have done whether it's a production or personal. To me it's cool and it shows your passion. It touches back to the casual call and stays away from the super sales/hire me call.

5 things I do not like:
1. "Any work I'd be great for going on right now?" - I know this is the prime reason you are calling but starting the conversation with this is a turn-off. To be completely blunt... if you were perfect for a job, I would have called.

2. Too personal - unless I know you outside of work please don't get too personal. If I have met you once or only had a couple of phone conversations it's slightly uncomfortable for me to hear about overly personal information (like your colonosopy appointment that morning... don't need to know).

3. The website tracker call - It's been talked about before (especially on but these are totally creepy. After just visiting your website, a call to say "I saw you were on the website - anything of interest or can I do something for you?" Wait a week or two if you have to do this and don't mention you saw me on the site.. it just reeks of desperation ... and did I mention creepiness?

4. Calling several times in one day - Most likely I am sitting at my desk working on something and looking at the phone to see if I recognize the number. Call once and leave a message - if you don't hear back in 3-4 weeks give another call. DO NOT call ten times in one day but not leave a message it pretty much guarantees that I won't pick up or that I won't return a call once the message is finally left.

5. The over-sales call - Meaning you sound like a stereotypical car salesman (no offense to car salesmen). Coming off over-eager and over-pushy is too much and will end the call quickly. Saying your perfect for whatever client and have done some spec work with them in mind is not an appropriate route. There's a fine line you have to walk here with selling yourself and your work but not overdoing it.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Lucie Awards

© van Gens

Erwin Olaf is being honored at the 6th Annual Lucie Awards in NYC on Monday October 20th with the 2008 award for Achievement in Advertising.

His clients have included Diesel, Milk the Game, Playstation, Nokia, Kohler, New York Times... just to name a few.

To see more info about the awards and other honorees head over to

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Personal Project - Oscar "OG" Garcia

After a week of craziness and throwing the blog to the back burner... we're back (me and the blog that is).

I'm sad to say that Heather Morton is shutting her blog down until further notice. Hopefully we'll see more of this Canadian creative soon.

Happy Wednesday to all and I hope you enjoy some eye candy courtesy of OG's personal project, Destiny by Design.
©2008 Oscar Garcia

What made you choose this project?

The main reason for choosing to be involved with and produce a project for Destiny by Design program, was simply for community involvement and service. I know and understand the importance of having positive experiences growing up and how they can contribute to how an individual develops as they get older. Another point of interest was the subject and focus of the program, hip-hop. As a music photographer and hip-hop fan, being involved with a program that strives to provide youth with tools for cultural and career development within music was a simply a no-brainer for me.

How many photos were there before you edited it down to the featured images?

This project involved documenting a entire semester of the Destiny by Design program at Kealing Middle School in Austin, Texas. When it was all said and done, there were thousands of images to go through. Normally that may seem like a big burden, but to be honest, I had a blast. Editing down the images allowed me to revisit the moments that motivated me to get involved in the first place.

What was your favorite aspect of this personal project?

My favorite aspect of this project was definitely being able to directly interact with the kids and give back to the Austin community. The children were great to work with. Something else to note was that Chamillionaire, hip-hop artist and a longtime client of ours, autographed prints (photograph of Chamillionaire that I had taken a few years back) for each of the children who participated in the program. I had mentioned it to him on one of our shoots and he was more than willing to help out. Everyone of the kids were very thankful which aided in making this entire experience well worth it.

You can check out the project online at
Design by Destiny is an after school program provided by Narcisse-Banks Community Resource Center.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Art Buyer Conversation

I believe in being honest and up front with artists and reps, it makes things go a little more smoothly when there is an understanding there. Sometimes it's not always easy to relay information or get across the feelings and intentions of the team (AD, account manager, client, etc) but as art buyers it's our responsibility to try.

One of the things I can get frustrated with is when the creative gets ignored and more pressure is put on the finance part. I completely understand and get the finance part makes the creative happen but when so much attention is on the budget it hampers the creative and the creative collaboration.

I do my very best to remain fair to all involved. If I have a budget I will give it to you, if I even have a range of what is expected I will give it to you. The sad thing is when the conversation keeps going back to the fact that it's not enough money or that it's incredibly lean when we've gone back and forth several times abut the numbers... Don't bid on a project if you feel the budget does not work with your fees and your production value. On the opposite side of that conversation... Don't undercut to try and guarantee the job is yours, it sets you up for going over budget and taking a chunk of your fee to cover production expense overages.

The best way is to have open conversation with the art buyer on the project from the very beginning. It's very appreciated. If you have concerns about the budget up front ask all the questions so you can make an informed decision whether to participate. Know that the art buyer is doing their best to be fair to both sides - the client and the photographer. Also know that the more the conversation is kept candid and honest the more mutual respect grows for all the parties involved (candid to the professional sense, just don't call me names).

Monday, October 6, 2008

Creative Opinion

Keeping pace with a few of last weeks posts:

The consensus I've been hearing is that people are slowing up and stock is the word of the month (if not the next few months).

Through my blog and portfolio meetings I've been asked the question:
Do you search photographer and rep sites for stock?
And if so what do you think the benefits are as opposed to the larger stock houses?

As artists and reps, are you seeing the same thing? how are you adjusting/what are you offering?

I'd love to share (anonymously) any feedback people are willing to contribute on this subject to pass the information and thoughts to others.

I already have some feedback from fellow art buyers but would like to hear from all sides.

You can email me here or post a comment.

Friday, October 3, 2008

AdBase's Art Buyer Lounge

Be sure to check out this valuable resource AdBase brings to you.
Art Buyer Lounge: Episode 2

Juliette Wolf-Robin interviews three Art Buyers from McCann Worldwide. Find out their answers to some of her questions like:

* How do buyers look for talent?
* What promos really get noticed?
* Do buyers prefer to work with artists who have reps?
* What is the internal process for hiring artists?

Advertising and the Economy (part 2)

In response to Amy's question... I wonder if the economy (which actually has been affecting my own freelance income stream since LAST fall) is going to mean more stock buying as a way for clients to save cash?

In my opinion - probably.
Stock imagery, especially the royalty free kind, is a cheaper way for clients to get imagery in their advertising. It doesn't mean it's a great image or an exclusive image though and that's what art buyers and account managers need to reiterate.

The unfortunate thing with the economy being in the proverbial toilet is that budgets are going to be slashed considerably so it requires adjustments on the artist, crew, and agency's parts. I will still recommend original imagery to the clients in hopes of continuing to have original work done by photographers and illustrators but I'm pretty sure the budgets won't allow for much. Which in turn will force creatives to turn to stock imagery.

Here is a benefit - most art buyers are aware that artists are offering their own stock on their websites and will search there as well as the larger stock houses BUT make sure you let them know with your marketing. I highly recommend to all to have a section on your site that at least states you offer stock imagery. Even if you don't have a section to that allows viewers to search on their own offer to pull lightboxes that might be appropriate for the projects and clients.

Art + Commerce has an image archive section that offers imagery from their photographers. Jim Erickson is a photographer who balances commissioned shoots and stock imagery exceptionally well.

When in doubt adjust to the market and market yourself so you keep working and keep yourself busy (and with an income).