Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What Art Buyers Might Look For

In many of the portfolio reviews and calls I've been having with photographers one of the big questions being asked is What does an art buyer look for?

There is no exact science to what each of us is looking for. It greatly depends on the client and the project and trying to match the best talent with the client's brand and messaging.

To be completely and utterly honest you have to have great imagery. With all the competition out there, if your work is considered run of the mill or does not stand out from the pack (so to say) it won't get called in. I know this may sound harsh but it's the reality just like if an ad agency goes after a client and their brand book does not have stand out items or campaigns, the client passes on to the next "competitor".

I'm always interested in seeing something visually arresting... whether it's a lighting technique, an angle, the talent chosen, off the cuff set ups, etc. If what you're presenting is flat or looks (pardon the expression) "too pedestrian", there's a good chance you're work may get passed over.

To be blunt, presenting a local corporate portrait or a portrait from an annual report is not going to get you the next ad campaign for Dolce & Gabbana. Art Buyers are super picky when it comes to imagery, especially the imagery we're recommending to art directors, creative directors, and clients.

Challenge yourself and experiment with personal projects. Get to know art buyers and some of the clients they work on, if you start to develop a rapport with that person, they may be more likely to give you a chance (whether it's a pro-bono or smaller project) to get in the door. Most of all continue to develop your work.

additional note:
I also wanted to add this little bit that I thought of this afternoon. Make it real and make it your own (your images should speak to who you are as an artist). And by real I don't mean lifestyle or "slice of life" situations, I mean real as in the feel of the image.
Just like with some bad reality TV shows, the audience can tell when someone is fake or coming across too contrived. If your imagery is too propped or too staged it doesn't feel real and can drive people away. Art buyers will go to the stock sites if they want that feel. No offense but the typical image of the growl face with hands in the hair has been done so much that it turns me away from a portfolio.
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