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Creative Calls

Consistency of Questions on the Creative Call


Is there a consistency to questions you feel are missed by the client or photographers on the Creative Call?


The creative call is almost as important as your portfolio of images to push you as the job’s front-runner. Questions during the call can be a way to get your point across by asking while suggesting; I call it a “loaded question.” I notice photographers not exactly missing questions per se but missing opportunistic moments to share the approach in a question format. 

Listen Carefully on Your Creative Call

Listen for the details mentioned on the creative call like it is a comprehensive test of who you will be on set if they hire you. 

The main goal of this call is to show how you hear their vision and put their trust in your hands. If you prove you are not a capable listener by missing the small stuff, you may be blowing their belief that you will hear them on the big stuff. 

The Purpose of the Creative Call


Do you think the purpose of the Creative Call is to give a verbal and preliminary treatment to clients before the actual treatment?


Yes, the creative call is when we introduce our verbal treatment, noticing the back and forth reactions sparked by the hot topics clients want to discuss. We use this call to monitor how the 2-way conversation flows, giving us a more concise roadmap to our treatment.

Don’t Waste Time Doing Estimates With Information We Don’t Have

We can’t be spending our time doing estimates on information we don’t have. 

I’m hearing a ton of complaints from photographers wasting useless time on estimates that don’t turn out to be the real deal. I hear you! With no bid spec sheets, I get many of these requests that won’t reveal the budget upfront, so I focus on the points that help me see if this client is even ready for an estimate. Our goal is to quickly open up the communication doors, giving us a clearer sense of what we are dealing with.

My quick first step estimating questionnaire:

  • What is the Usage?
  • What is the specific Shotlist?
  • Do you have a creative deck with the layouts + mood-boards?
  • What are the talent rates?
  • Do you have stylists you like to use?
  • When is the creative call?

The Creative Call Is Your Place To Shine!

The creative call is your place to shine! Be prepared, ready with all the resources you can gather to come across as clearly qualified to take on this project. Have a plan to share as you are actually the information provider vs. just gathering their information. Be the contributor of great insight as that is who they are looking to hire. Be ready!

Bidding on a Project Without a Creative Call


What does it mean when a client wants me to bid on a project, but they don’t want to have a creative call?


If clients don’t want a creative call, that may be a sign for us to read into how they are not taking this as seriously as we’d like. It is time for the photographer to share their vision and approach, introducing the director who you will be on set. I read into them skipping this stage in a couple of ways: You may be the 3rd bidder and not be high on their list for this project so you should kick butt on your treatment as that can serve as your intro to the creatives and the client. Your estimate should be as ethically conservative as safely possible to entice the client to choose you but remember you could get locked into these prices in the future. This project may not be happening yet, and they needed your numbers to provide the client with a preliminary budget range.

Every Bid

Every bid inquiry requires its own fine-tuned strategy + gameplan. 

The question is, which response will align with the client’s goals to get us the job while clearing up any potential usage terms that don’t protect you. We usually have to think quickly and make fast decisions following our instincts. Sometimes it’s in our best interest to wait for the details to be ironed out after the creative call. Strengthening our position first can allow us to make the changes we ultimately need to make.

Newer Photographers on a Creative Call


If a newer photographer makes it to the creative call stage, how honest should they be about what they do and don’t know?


The short answer is: it depends. The full answer is: the process of bidding and getting on the creative call should have a well-strategized plan based on all the job’s specifics, your relationship with the client contacts, and your portfolio. We can never truly calculate the outcome, even when we think we get a clear read because of the chain of decision-makers. I highly recommend going to the rep of your choice and getting into a temp rep situation to help advise you on all the specifics which could affect losing or getting the job.

This is a Presentation

Make sure to use your words wisely and get into good routines to share your ideas on client calls. If you find yourself needing a traditional phrase to finish your zoned-in thoughts, get them ready and mix them up. Saying a phrase more than once will weaken your “director” presentation, and remember, this is a presentation.

Decision Making of Selecting a Photographer


How much influence do art directors have in the decision making process of selecting a photographer for a project?


The decision-making process of selecting the photographer goes through many twists and turns, mostly involving the producer, creatives (art director/creative directors or designers), and the clients. The producers usually bring in the selection of photographers for the creatives to choose their top 3. The creatives will then inform the producer who is their top choice. Our goal is always to be the ‘recommend’ to the client, but ultimately, the client decides.