News for the ‘Agent Forum’ Category

A Recent Article about Estimating

Suzanne Sease recently wrote an article about estimating. It is extremely well written and covers the key topics of discussion in any estimate construction. A must read for any professional photographer. She also recommends C20 as a great resource so thank you Suzanne!


Create an Estimate That Gets the Job

By Suzanne Sease

As a former art buyer, I am often asked this about estimating and negotiating: “how do I get my estimate to stand out?” I think the most important thing to remember is you have already gotten this far in the selection process and that is a great accomplishment!

So now it is your time to shine and win the assignment. I recently interviewed several art buyer and art director friends on this very subject. Here are some simple pointers to keep in mind.

* If you are asked to estimate a job, get as much information as you can before you give any numbers.
* If someone asks your “day-rate”, simply state that you factor in many items and issues to present a “creative fee”.
* If you estimate with a creative fee (which combines your time and the usage) you have a better chance of, first, making more if they ask to reuse the image and, second,even if they decide not to use the image, you still get paid for all your work.
* Never present an estimate without some type of layout or written description of the assignment. In your estimate repeat the same description; never say “as per layout”. The layouts and descriptions change and you have to protect yourself.
* If the caller won’t give you a budget, say “this looks like a project around $10,000-$15,000, is that what you were thinking?” Using this angle usually gets them to “confess” how much they have allotted.
* If you have the opportunity to speak to the buyer or creative person, be enthusiastic about the project and offer how you see shooting it. Add something to the project – remember they called you because of your style.
* If the project is like something you have shot but is not on your website or in your portfolio, offer them an opportunity to see what you have. This just confirms that you are right for the job.
* We are visual people, so a visual treatment is sometimes better than a written one.
* Submit an estimate with the fees upfront and then how you plan to produce it.
* You can charge for your equipment, but make it reasonable- call a rental facility to see what the average is for that piece of equipment.
* Charge for tech scouting- this is your time going to whatever location without the whole crew, clients and buyers. This saves them money in the long run- sell it to them in that way.
* You can charge for digital capture, again within reason.
* Make sure you itemize your line items. You plan to hire a wardrobe stylists for “x” days of prepping/shopping, “x” days on set and “x” days returning. This shows that you have thought out the project and if you are under-estimating it (or low-balling it). This is why is so awesome.

Negotiating Tips:

* Don’t take it personally when asked to reduce certain line items. It is business and one of the reasons buyers like dealing with agents is because they understand this.
* Sometimes it is best to show the buyer a breakdown of what exactly each image costs.
* Go to a stock site like Getty Images to see what a similar image would be as a non-exclusive image and consider that your image will be custom.
* Silence- if you are at a point that you want to digest, be silent; most of the times the other person will start talking and direct the negotiation in your direction.

If you need extra help, hire a pro. Clare O’Dea, is a NYC agent with international experience who offers “representation when you need it.” You can also get some expert coaching on preparing winning estimates, try the smart folks at Agency Access.

And if you don’t get the assignment, thank the person who requested the estimate for the opportunity to show them your business. And since the door had been opened, show them new work periodically to keep yourself on their radar.

About Suzanne

In 1987, Suzanne Sease established the art buying department at the Internationally acclaimed Martin Agency and left in 1999 to be a consultant while art buying for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Target, Best Buy and many other smaller shops. Today, she focuses only on consulting but uses those experiences to give valuable information to her photography and illustration clients.

Edited: March 23rd, 2011

Fantastic Open Letter to Art Buyers from the Agent Perspective

Great open “letter” to Art Buyers posted by Heather Elder on her blog yesterday.

It states the obvious, but is a nice reminder to agents and art buyers/producers that we play the same role and should speak the same language.
Recently, I had lunch with a very experienced Art Buyer who has worked in this industry at many agencies over the years. I consider her a good friend.
She commented on the similarity between the role of an Art Buyer and the role of an Agent.
Agents get a lot of pressure from our Artists to make things happen. Art Buyers get a lot of pressure from their Art Directors to make things happen.
Ultimately, both the agents and the art buyers want the same things as the creatives. We want the best artist on the job. We want the best team in place. We want the best work. We want to win awards for the work. And most importantly, we want to try to remember to inject some play into our work. We are very fortunate to work in an industry that allows us to create art for a living.
The “work” of a child is play. Play is a fundamental component of development. We need to re-connect with the concept of play as work and work as play. We need to remember how to communicate effectively with each other. We express appreciation for each other when we speak honestly and candidly in our business relationships.
At C20, I try to teach artists to establish that dialogue, to speak the correct language and to remember that this should be fun. Bring your infectious energy, curiosity and creativity to the table every time. You may not win every project, but you’ll have fun in the process.

Edited: March 9th, 2011