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Inside View

Inside View: LA Art Director on What They Look For in Photographers + How They Find Them

ASR: What is something that will make you choose one photographer over another?

AD: There’s a lot of different factors that go into selecting photographers. For me one main one is the client and the project itself. Are they safe, more adventurous, reserved, edgy? Once I figure that out, I determine the vibe of the project. For me mood is a key factor to selecting a photographer. Without knowing the photographer at a personal level, if I can sense the mood I’m going for within their portfolio I feel more confident working with them. There’s a sense of trust without really having to communicate. More and more, I feel that when a photographer is doing something different from the norm. I’m more than likely to push for them. If I get inspired by a photo that pushes my own conventional thinking, they’ve won me over. And that’s the thing with photographers, right? It’s that trust in giving them freedom without really micromanaging them to get the shot you’ve envisioned. I’ve been fortunate enough to have gotten to work with so many talented photographers. 

ASR: How do you find photographers?

AD: Rosters, Instagram, friends in the industry, I keep leave behinds when a photographer visits the agency. Instagram presence really helps too. 

ASR: Why does an Instagram presence really help?

AD: Instagram presence is important to me cause it gives me a sense of their personality. A portfolio is curated but an active photographer on Instagram draws me in on a personal level. Especially when I see work I might have not seen. When I see a photographer’s Instagram that’s not mimicking their portfolio it’s the truest form of connecting with them. Seeing the way they see the world.

Inside View: Technical Tip to Leveling Up Your Zoom Call Appearance from Photographer Vinnie Finn

ASR: Vinnie, I was enjoying your crystal clear quality of your camera on our Zoom creative call. You really were clearer than I have seen before. What equipment do you use to get this so sharp?

VF: I use Canon EOS R that is connected to my computer through a capture card, the capture card is an Elgato Cam Link. For audio I use a Zoom H% recorder that is also connected directly to my computer.

Inside View: Photographer Dana Goldstein’s Top 7 Tips to Prepare for Online Portfolio Reviews

  1. Have copies of your presentation in two locations! I used Canva’s pro app to make two shorter ports of recent work, and it worked great – I used the app in presentation mode when I shared my screen EXCEPT during 1 of my 12 reviews, the app was having issues connecting. NO PROBLEM – I had already downloaded the PDFs of the final apps so I switched over to the PDFs without missing a beat. So I would say have two locations open just in case one has a glitch.
  2. If possible, use images that aren’t already on your website. I am fortunate to have had recent shoots and images for a new project, so I was able to avoid the chance of it just being a repeat of things they could have seen just by checking out the website.
  3. Have your website open and waiting ANYWAY. In one review, the reviewer asked if I had additional images from specific shoots, besides the portraits. I quickly logged into a specific gallery on my website and began sharing that screen. For all reviews going forward, I also had that page up and ready to go if I needed it.
  4. LinkedIn is always your friend. In my last review, I got the reviewer on the schedule, but she was also joined by an associate as she had been having childcare issues and couldn’t be sure she could stay on. I had five minutes to look him up and found that he’s a skateboarder, like my daughter, so I was able to open the conversation with that connection, and I mentioned it again in my thank you email. He shared a link to a friend’s project with a young girl skateboarder in response, and it helped solidify a new connection (who is now a LinkedIn contact himself).
  5. I thanked each reviewer for participating in this new type format, and asked how it was going from their side, since it’s all a work in progress. They all said they were so excited to be able to meet photographers from all over the world. One said, “I just met a photographer in Africa!” So if you’re outside the main cities, emphasize how meaningful it is for you as a creative to be able to participate from where you are. Gratitude is important and memorable.
  6. I had a digital promo card ready to go in the chat as soon as the review started. (Also created on Canva) Don’t wait till the end to give this, as you might get cut off rather abruptly in a group review format, and not have a chance to exchange information. I also mentioned that I was dropping it in, since not everyone keeps their chat tab open in Zoom.
  7. Do a run-thru with someone who’s not on your WiFi. Some formats do these lovely dissolves between images or virtual “page turning” but depending on the other person’s connection, it may look choppy. I wanted to do the dissolve, but my daughter told me from school (she was on Zoom on her phone) that it looked halting and choppy and was distracting, so I did clean image breaks instead.

Inside View: Where is the Industry Headed?

ASR: How do you see the business changing right now and where do you see it going?

Anonymous NY Art Producer: Budgets are getting smaller, and clients are becoming more savvy with building campaign landscapes. They don’t want just stills, they want content. In addition to static assets that will live in print and OOH, they’re also interested in GIFs and short form content. It’s truly the middle ground between static and broadcast production, everyone across disciplines needs to consider shooting for vertical. Clients are no longer wanting traditional assets like a commercial spot and campaign stills – they want everything.

ASR: How are photographers handling this differently now to make this happen successfully?

Anonymous NY Art Producer: Good question! I would say this is where a photographer has the leg up edge-wise. Tackling this successfully requires a smaller footprint than what’s been done before to solve creative ask. Since photographers have normally worked with a fraction of a traditional broadcast budget, they’re already accustomed to creating with smaller crews and resources. Don’t think shooting motion equates to taking on the same resources as a broadcast production; be tactical, nimble, and resourceful. There are young emerging artists who have proven to achieve more with less, that’s the way of modern production now, and that’s what’s driving client expectations. 

Inside View: Bidding Tips

Bidding a project correctly is one of the most crucial parts of getting awarded a job. The way you bid CAN ultimately get you in or lose the job. As much as every bid depends on the situation, there are also some standards and rules that you can educate yourself about and utilize to your benefit. 

Here are 5 tips to help you become an even more successful bidder!

Tip #1: Creative Fees + Usage

Always have a signed estimate that clearly describes what the bid is based on and what the licensed usage is. Be sure all costs are agreed on before beginning the job. 

It is our responsibility to clearly spell out what our numbers cover and don’t cover. I used the top of the estimate for this, and call it “description.”

Always define the amount of shots and what they are. Remember to specify that the bid does not include variations, added shots, or different angles. Mostly, this section is how you protect yourself. 

A great line I like to use after the usage is, “image rights granted with full payment.”

Make sure overtime is clear on your estimate – that the shoot day is based on the standard 10 hour day, anything over that will incur an overtime rate of time-and-a-half for crew. 

If you feel like you would do better if you had help with your bid, then hire the right person – like a rep, producer, or consultant. It could be well worth that commission fee if getting help will in the end leave you with a much larger rate than you would have gotten on your own. 

Tip #2: Negotiating

Clients can’t give you numbers, you have to throw numbers out there for them to bring you up or down. 

Always start with a higher amount and hope they say you are too high. You don’t want to be too low. 

Use questions about the details of the job to get a sense of each client. REALLY LISTEN. I have found that people want to tell us a lot more inside information than we give them the time or opportunity to reveal. 

Tip #3: Advances + Expenses


To get this invoice in, you need to have their purchase order (PO) # on your invoice or at least a signed estimate. As soon as that happens, you can officially begin to start spending money. 

BE CAREFUL THOUGH, there are a lot of scams out there. If this is not for a major advertising agency or client you know, wait until you have been wired the advance invoice and it CLEARS at the bank before you spend ANY money for a job. 

If any changes occur before or during the shoot, you need to request an “overage” (send in an overage estimate) and when that is approved you can spend more $. 

Do not go over this total which you’ve been approved for, or you will not be able to charge for it. 

Tip #4: Payment

Invoicing for an advertising job after it is completed will often require backup of all receipts. 

This should be done correctly and I’d recommend getting a producer’s help and/or a bookkeeper who knows the business. 

Expect to be paid 30-60 days after the client receives your final invoice. 


(in all ways + places even *bidding*)

Think outside the box. 

Just like a good producer responds with options in a tough scenario, be your own innovative producer. 

Getting creative seems to be my response to all that is happening in our business right now. The entire industry is changing, so go with the flow of it and find your way. 

Use your experience wisely, but don’t let what you’ve done in the past limit or define you. Step outside your own thinking sometimes. Think young.

Inside View: On Treatments

In an effort to demystify this topic, I asked a variety of Art Producers to get the inside scoop on treatments.

Question: What do you believe is the purpose of a treatment?

FCB Chicago Art Buyer: The purpose of a treatment from our perspective is to confirm the photographer has taken, digested, and totally understood the brief and creative call. It’s an opportunity to make the creatives feel totally comfortable and at ease with the photographer’s expertise. 

The photographer should also always feel empowered to bring their own flavor to the concept, too; we seek photographers out to be creative collaborators, so if a treatment is just going to directly mirror our concept/references and not add anything new then it’s not as strong as it could be if the photographer included some of his or her own ideas, as long as they’re in line with the concept and goal of the shoot/campaign. 

Art Producer Cameron Barnum: Treatments are a critical tool in today’s bidding process. That might sound hyperbolic but I’m finding that Art Directors & Clients are coming to expect a treatment for any sizable project. Directors have long provided as much. Photographers would be well advised to join ranks. 

Anonymous Art Producer: The treatment shows us how the photographer envisions the shoot happening, from style to locations to actual camera lensing. It gives us a look into what our project will become with that specific photographer. 

Art Production + Creative Consulting Mara Serdans: The purpose of a treatment is to give the creatives and client an idea of how the photographer plans to execute the concepts through his/her lens. I think the photographer should use this as an opportunity to share any solutions to challenges/questions that were posed on the creative call as well. The photographer should also do more than just regurgitate what was discussed on the creative call but show the team his/her unique perspective.

Question: What are some key components in putting together a successful treatment?

Art Producer Cameron Barnum: Photographers should embrace the treatment as an opportunity to show their craft & design sensibilities in the document itself. They should use it to further develop the ideas started by the initial creative briefing conversation. A treatment is also a great place to express their enthusiasm for taking on the job. 

Anonymous Art Producer: I think attention to detail and thoughtfulness of the project as a whole is essential. I’ve gotten treatments where a photographer just threw some photos together and sent them over. I can find those on their website myself! Some of the best treatments I’ve gotten have broken things down so beautifully with an intro to them as a person, look and feel (and they explained why their look and feel would translate well to out project), location inspiration, wardrobe and talent styling, technical info, and just an overall breakdown of how they work. Those types of treatments literally lay the shoot out for us with such a clear picture. 

Anonymous Art Producer: The PDF is well designed and showcases your ideas. Something that would stick out negatively is when it’s clear you didn’t understand the brief or have an idea that is totally off brand/message.

Question: What percentage of the treatment should be words, and what percentage images?

Anonymous Art Producer: I think about 60-70% images and 30-40% words. It’s nice to get a good overview of how you work and how you’d approach the job, particularly if we haven’t worked together and we only got to know you on a creative call. 

Art Production + Creative Consulting Mara Serdans: I don’t think I can quantify a specific ratio of images to words but it should clearly and concisely communicate the concepts. And the photographer should inject a bit of his/her personality into the treatment. Also, don’t forget to spell-check and make sure everything sounds grammatically correct. 

Art Producer Cameron Barnum: The content needs to match the scope of the project. A more complex project deserves a commensurate treatment. It’s hard to attach a ratio of words to pictures but given the visual art form, more of the latter would be expected. Components ought to touch upon the critical creative decisions. E.g location, casting, on-set workflow. Also, don’t be afraid to make it personal.