Monday, December 29, 2008

Holiday Vacation

Ahhh the holidays... it means family, friends, lots and lots of food and most often a little vacation from your day to day activities. So I took a short break from the blogging to get some other stuff done and participate in the all around merriness.

For most businesses this time of year sees a slow down in activity. How do you spend your down time? Aside from doing holiday stuff I managed to update records and my portfolio. It's usually a good time to gear up for the new year's mailings and meetings. To get your calendar in order for the new year to hit the ground running.

I always get a flurry of calls starting the first full week in January so I advise some of you to wait a few weeks after the start of the new year to begin your 2009 marketing. I'm still a big advocate of in person meetings so if you're traveling in the new year whether it's for business or personal try to schedule and additional afternoon to meet with some folks.

LeBook and Workbook will be sending out their new 2009 additions that creatives, art buyers, etc peruse through. AdBase usually updates and rechecks contact information around this time of year. Make sure you are up to date with your contact info and start getting in touch with people.

Hit the ground running for 2009!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Purchase Orders

In my mind a purchase order is more than an invoice receipt for the agency or client, it also acts as a contract between the artists/vendors and agency/client. The more descriptive a purchase order is, the better it is to protect all the parties involved on the agreed upon licensing and information accompanying it. Some clients or agencies might keep their purchase orders for internal billing only, in that case always make sure there is an agreement in writing, whether it is an email or on the artist invoice.

Here's what I usually include:
- Phone and fax number for artist and rep
- Team working on the project (Art Buyer, Art Director, Project Manager or Account Manager)
- Date of shoot and date of film/digital file due to agency
- Advance paid amount and date paid
- Usage parameters, if the usage is a limited usage and not unlimited I always like to include the date of first use and whether it is non-exclusive or exclusive.
- Shoot description, an outline of all the situations to be photographed and the number of shots expected as well as for final usage
- Outline a mini-schedule with travel, prep, shoot, and wrap dates
- Who is paying for talent/models if there are any
- A rights for self-promotion line for the agency and client
- Include all receipts when invoicing for backup of invoice. This also provides a paper trail of expenses for agency and client as well as proof for auditing purposes.
- Expenses not to exceed "X" amount without written authorization in advance (I find this helps keep track of any overages that occur on set and get client sign-off so there are no surprises.)

- When purchasing stock, whether from a stock house or a photographer, I include the image number, what the image description is, size, licensed usage and cost per image (not just the lump sum).

The other benefit of having paperwork that is this descriptive is that it allows as back-up for someone that may have to work off this at a later date (especially if the main person is not around) and it makes reference for re-use easy because you have all the original information available.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Usage - part one

Usage can be a tricky thing, whether it is licensed assignment photography or licensed stock photography. Determining the usage fee depends on several different factors specifically what the agency or client is licensing. License by definition mean to permit the use of something. The client is contracting specific rights to use the imagery the artist has produced.

Here are some usage terms to keep in mind:

Buyout - This refers to unlimited use for an unlimited time in all mediums unless otherwise specified for a specific medium or market. By no means should this be assumed as a transfer of copyright.

Transfer of Copyright - All rights to the artwork are transferred through contract from the creator/artist to the purchaser/client. unlimited use for an unlimited time.

Exclusivity - This limits how a copyright holder can offer work to a third party for reproduction. Clients who license usage with an exclusivity term want to block potential competitors from using the same imagery.

Limited use - Your typical usage that can be specified by a time frame, type of media, quantity, territory, etc.
This has several subsections like the following: print ads (newspaper, magazine, sponsorship, trade publications), point of sale/collateral (brochures, direct mail, catalogs, free standing inserts, take-ones), out of home (billboards, kiosks, wild postings, transit), packaging, global electronic/web (web sites, banners, mobile, viral, interactive). Mediums: Print, Web, or Broadcast.

Presentation/Research use - This normally refers to non-commissionable media or not for the public market. Simply for testing purposes or focus groups.

The higher the usage the higher the fee. Be sure to always get usage and licensing contract information in writing. Ensure the client understands the license and the usage parameters. It is a good idea to write out the specific usage in detail, for example, some clients still use the term buyout but in your contract you should write something like buyout, unlimited use for an unlimited time in all mediums.

Good resources for more usage information are ASMP and PLUS.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Adweek's list of Most Influential People

AdWeek is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. As one of their special anniversary exclusives they have highlighted 30 (technically only 27 are listed) of the most influential people working in advertising, marketing and media today.

See the article here on

Friday, December 5, 2008

Another Notable Item

This AdWeek article published today discusses Mattel's Barbie vs MGA's Bratz and a ruling on intellectual property.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Notable Items

Some news and stuff that's worth taking a look at or taking a few minutes to peruse.

Seth Godin's article on his blog: The High Cost of Now

Photo Marketing Tips Blog has an interesting post regarding 7 things to do before you cold call.

ASMP's Year End 2008 bulletin is out, download the pdf here.

Head over to too much chocolate - thanks to post on Concientious blog - connecting emerging photographers.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Personal Project - Jonathan Beller

One of the reasons I chose to feature Jonathan's project "Fans" is that aside from his wit, he really gets into the thick of the "fandom" to get people's true reactions, emotions, and expressions of being a fan.

What made you choose this project?

About five years ago, I was working with photographer, Julian Germain. After looking at my portfolio, he suggested that I do a personal project on fans. I decided to start by going to a celebrity signing, one of the more obvious places to find fans. I realized that in order to get at the essence of what being a "fan" meant, I would have to branch out. I talked with and photographed people outside of sporting events, waited with people in line hours before a show was starting, and have even gone to midnight book releases. Its easy to get as excited as they are when you get surrounded by hundreds of people who feel the same about something.

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

This has been an ongoing project for me over the past five years. I continually update my site with new work. I have been preparing to make a book of these photographs.

What was your favorite aspect of this personal project?

My favorite part is getting to meet the people. This project has taken me all over the place. I've eaten sausages with Patriots Fans outside of Gillette Stadium, taken a charity walk with Hanson fans, and even did 10-pin bowling for the first time with Big Lebowski fans. We are all fans of something, no matter how different it is, being a fan is the same.

Check out Jonathan's project here and the rest of his portfolio at

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

5 things about "Down and Dirty" shoots

These type of shoots have a few names that people call them: down and dirty shoots, guerrilla shoots, no time shoot.. etc. Whatever you refer to them as, normally these types of shoots/projects mean a few things: little money, little time, and big quality.

Here are my 5 likes and dis-likes (strictly in my opinion as an art buyer).

1. Think on your toes. While sometimes the production can keep you guessing (or confused) it proves what a good problem-solver you can be. I think it's also an adrenaline rush to get it all pulled together as quickly as possible.

2. The teamwork and collaboration. I have found that even more so on these types of jobs the teamwork and collaboration between the art director/designer, art buyer, photographer, rep and virtually everyone else working on the job really come together to make it happen.

3. Creativity. This goes hand-in-hand with the collaboration as well as thinking on your toes. Sometimes these shoots allow for more creativity because of the timing and nature of a project like this, the team doesn't have time to sit and stare and mull over the project. And I have found that photographers especially have great ideas and solutions on the fly that the art directors and designers are more willing to be avant-garde with or experimental.

4. Production Value. While this could also be in the dislike category, because yes the production value does suffer some, I feel it fits nicely here and touches on all the points above. We are still able to pull off a good shoot/project with the right production and elements. It requires effort and finagling but it can be done. I think a good shoot is achievable even with the constraints as long as people/team players are willing, problem solving and creative.

5. No matter what, it always comes together. It can start out as the craziest project with the worst timing and absolutely no budget and for whatever reason (mostly the effort of the whole team) it always comes together and it always works out. The thrill of pulling it all together and having beautiful work come out of it is so rewarding. I feel like it's more energizing knowing the hoops everyone had to jump through.

1. No budget or small budget. The no budget thing kind of puts a damper on the production value. It's tough for the photographer/producer to potentially call in favors, it's tough for the art buyer to explain to the photographer there's little budget and to the account team the importance of certain spending on certain production items, and it's tough for the client to understand why a shoot costs about the same amount as an employee's yearly salary.

2. Complaining. I think complaining doesn't get you anywhere. It's about getting the job done and trying your damnedest to get it done right and to get it done well. As an art buyer I totally get that down and dirty shoots are tough on both sides, for the photographer as well as for the agency. (And none of these dislikes are thought of as complaints.. more like speed bumps to the process of a normal production)

3. Post-production costs. In my experience (most of the time) when these types of shoots are completed and the high res artwork is in-house, they actually require more post-production time and money than normal. Sometimes the weather wasn't right on that day and the sky needs to be cloudier, sometimes the logo placement and cropping wasn't thought of correctly, sometimes in the rush to get a location there's a building the client wants to come out and trees to be put in... there are a few factors that aren't taken into consideration and once it's all said and done it usually needs a bit more work.

4. Timing. I've had different timelines with these types of productions.. some have been 2 days, some a week. It never fails that time ends up being my worst enemy on these down and dirty shoots. The hardest part is making sure that you've gotten everything done (casting, locations, permitting) and it has still gone through some sort of approval process and it's ready to go on the day of. (Doing casting and approvals in one day off headshots is always a crap shoot.)

5. Process. No one really likes the word process but there's always some sort of process or organization that goes into pulling a project together. When fast projects come up, inevitably something slips through the cracks. It could be an advance or PO doesn't get out soon enough, it could be that the location wasn't approved (or permitted correctly), it could be that the money allotment was put against the wrong job or project, it could be a number of things. We all just hope it's a small thing and preferably only one and not several.