Young man working at modern office space, working on project. Making a call on

The Art of the Creative Call

A strong creative call can influence decision makers and sway the project in your direction. I recently was on a successful call and thought I would share the details. The call was with a new client, a large medical pharmaceutical company on the East Coast. They shoot several times a year and have their own in-house marketing department—a good client to make a good first and lasting impression.

On the call was myself, as acting agent and producer, the photographer, Art Producer, Art Director along with the Brand Manager for the project. If you have a rep or access to a producer have them join in on the call. This allows you to talk about the creative and your approach to the project and for the rep or producer to focus more on the logistics. It also emphasizes to the client that you have a team in place that is ready to take on their assignment.

The initial information for this job came to us in an email and seemed fairly straight forward—two days of shooting employee portraits during a company conference. The images were not only going to be used internally but for advertising as well, so they needed to be unique, with energy and additional props. Before our call, the Art Producer sent another email mentioning they wanted to discuss the option of adding a day of shooting lifestyle imagery that depicted the brand’s personal patient care outside of a hospital setting. The catch was we needed to use their employees as the talent, but we were excited about the opportunity, nonetheless. Prior to our call, the photographer and I reviewed the shoot brief together, gathered our questions and concerns and came up with a game plan for how we envisioned the production.

The Art Producer started the call. Everyone was introduced, then it was kicked over to the Art Director who described the needs of the project and her vision. This is typical of a creative call— discuss the imagery first, then logistics. After the Art Director’s description, the photographer spoke to the creative, reiterating that he understood the concept and the needs of the project. It’s important to relay to the creative and the team that you grasp their vision and that you can deliver. At this point in the conversation it is all about the end result. The photographer spoke enthusiastically about the project and confidently described his process when working with real people talent.

We moved the discussion onto the logistics of the shoot. Having done our homework allowed us to have an honest and open conversation with the client about solutions to fulfill their needs as well as setting realistic expectations. These real conversations of logistics can lead to great ideas and a clearer understanding of the project and how to approach the bid.

I hopped in to start the conversation.  I confirmed the shot list, scheduling, and location. I questioned if we felt we could fulfill all the lifestyle needs with employees or if I should include an option in our estimate for talent extras. A concern the photographer and I had both discussed. The photographer and I both conveyed our idea of shooting the lifestyle day at the employee’s hotel in a large suite—a cost effective solution. We discussed our concerns of the hotel space available for portraits and suggested shooting at a nearby studio, where we could shuttle employees over in groups. This scenario provided a more conducive work environment.

I brought up that I would include a wardrobe stylist in the estimate to dress and steam the employee’s personal wardrobe. This would provide time efficiencies and enhance the quality and cohesiveness of the photos. After discussing the logistics, offering solutions and relaying our concerns, we felt we had a better understanding of the project and how to proceed with the estimate. The Art Producer let us know we should bid the project as we felt fit but to understand they did have a tight budget. I later discussed the actual budget with her offline.

At the end of the call we felt great! We achieved what we intended – we became part of the process, part of the solution and part of the team.  We were off to create our estimate and a treatment to seal the deal.

Lynn Kyle

Lynn Kyle brings a unique combination of agency and production experience to her role as creative consultant for Agency Access. She's become intimately familiar with the business end of commercial photography and illustration over the last two decades, working with high profile artists including Nadav Kander and Irving Penn as an art buyer, producer, and artists rep at top firms including Leo Burnett Chicago.

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