Friday July 2nd, 2010
Last week, Jess and Ben headed west to Chicago, where they packed four portfolio events and a few other stops into two very busy days. Their first destination was the quaint Chicago suburb of West Dundee, where they presented our photographers’ books at the boutique graphic design firm SamataMason.
SamataMason has recently expanded into a full-service creative shop, working on branding, case studies and identity assessments for their clients, who include Chiquita, Motorola and Prudential Insurance. Jess and Ben met with two of their principals (above).
As they were poring over the books, the conversation turned to how SamataMason chooses photographers, since they are deluged with dozens of mailers every day. Not surprisingly, the only mailers that they keep are the ones that they consider unique. As an example of a leave-behind that avoided the circular file, they specifically mentioned Terry Vine’s promotional piece.
Next stop was the McDonald’s headquarters, where Jess and Ben met with the Photography Supervisor, who hires photographers for the company’s corporate communications. She had specifically asked Wonderful Machine to bring along lifestyle work, and before she even looked at a book, they spent some time discussing how McDonald’s hires photographers and uses images.
The entire corporation has access to a networked library of images from their shoots. These images are labeled with the licensing terms, but since there are so many people pulling these images, they prefer to work with photographers who will license images forever; this way, they don’t have to worry about images being used after the licensing term has ended.
The Photography Supervisor then carefully reviewed the twenty books we had selected for her, and she gravitated towards the photographers with good story-telling ability. She tends to avoid giving too much direction, and instead encourages photographers to be spontaneous and have fun with the shoot. McDonald’s is trying to get away from perfectly posed images of models biting into a freshly-styled Big Mac, and is moving towards using “real people.” In fact, in shoots now taking place at McDonald’s restaurants across the country, they often ask diners on the spot if they wouldn’t mind having their picture taken.
Chicago photographer Eric Klein’s lifestyle book received rave reviews at McDonald’s:
That evening, our envoy stopped by Saverio Truglia’s studio on the way into the city to pick up his portfolio for the next days’ meetings. Saverio was in the middle of a casting call, so Jess and Ben just followed the line of thin twenty-somethings and ended up at Saverio’s door. Our team wasn’t able to stick around for the go-see, but we were told Ben had perfect hair for the job. (From left: Jess, Saverio and Saverio’s studio manager Annika).
Later Jess and Ben met with a few of our Chicago-based photographers at a the Plymouth Restaurant and Bar in the South Loop. With fans and mist keeping them cool on a 90 degree evening, the photographers traded stories about their experiences with clients and their opinions on the direction that the industry is taking. While Chicago has seen the effects of the recession and the changing landscape of the editorial market, there is still a lot of work out there and our photographers are keeping busy. (From left: Ben, Becky Hill, Scott Bell, Eric Klein, Peter Hoffman.)
On Wednesday morning, our intrepid travelers slogged their way through a torrential downpour and arrived at the shared offices of Arc Worldwide and Leo Burnett. After taking a minute to dry off, they set up for one of the biggest reviews we’ve ever coordinated with these two very large and very prestigious ad agencies. Jess and Ben met with nearly 40 different creatives from both companies over the course of the two-hour review.
Arc and Leo Burnett handle some of the most recognizable brands in the world, including Kellogg’s, Coke and McDonald’s. The creatives were very interested in a number of our photographers for projects they were currently working on. Like McDonald’s, several creatives talked about the fact that they were searching for less perfectly styled images and more “real, gritty” shots, in this case of food. They affectionately referred to this type of food photography as “food porn.”
Our Director of Photography Sean Stone recently helped Leo Gong create his new portfolio, which got quite a bit of attention at Arc Worldwide:
Matthew Gilson, one of our Chicago lifestyle photographers, caught the eyes of a number of creatives with his book:
Alternately, the creatives who were working on the Coke Zero campaign were looking for lifestyle and portraiture that looked very produced and featured high-key lighting. Despite the considerable number of creatives in the room, Jess and Ben still had plenty of time to chat one-on-one with a few of them about their needs when looking for great photography, and they discussed ways that Wonderful Machine could make the process easier and more productive. In the end, the creatives flipped through each book dozens of times, and they had all assembled their own individual piles of leave-behinds to take back to their desks.
After a quick lunch, Ben and Jess pushed their hand truck, stacked with books, about seven blocks eastwards to Element 79 Partners. Element 79 is an ad agency that focuses on creating a “deeper” brand experience and strives to create “raving fans” for their clients.
The review went very well. About 20 very friendly creatives took a tour of our photographers’ work. Many were specifically looking for lifestyle photography, and others were looking for photographers who showed people with food. One creative director in particular spent about ten minutes looking through the books and writing down names, and then another ten minutes on our website in search of photographers who shoot people with food.
Jess and Ben left Element 79, after making some strong connections, and wrapped up an intense two days with a trip to Gino’s East for some well-deserved Chicago deep-dish pizza before catching a late flight back to Philly.