Monday, December 1, 2008

Food for Thought

The Christmas themed ads started appearing well before Thanksgiving this year, earlier than I can remember. I'm over it already and it's only December 1st! All the more reason to share this video I received today from a colleague. I can't endorse the sponsor's site, but I do endorse the video's primary point, which is to give of ourselves rather than join the tidal wave of consumerism that is a normal and expected part of the holiday season, and that if we want to do something with our hard earned money, we should give at least some of it to charity. I'm trying to sell the idea to my 13 and 16 year old children... Good luck, right?! It's ironic that while the video's message compliments the belt tightening most of us have been doing since the economy's crash, it opposes the only thing that will help the economy recover. I say, don't spend, and let the chips fall where they odd position from someone who has made a career of helping marketers sell their goods and services. Happy holidays.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Playing Catch Up

No rest for the weary...or is it wicked? Both fit, so take your pick. I blink twice and a month goes by since my last post. So, there's lots of going's on to report, some of which seems like it happened another lifetime ago. Comrade shot William Peterson for The Chicago Tribune Magazine, and launched a new website that he designed and built himself. Check it out here, but come back after you're done. And beware of his blog! I went for a 'quick look' and ended up spending over an hour there! Really cool stuff. Here are his pics of WP:

Zachary Scott shot these fun ads for Castrol awhile ago, but we got our mitts on them only recently. Haven't seen them out there yet, but I'm not a gear head. More work our FX guy, Edward French. Agency: Ogilvy/NY. AD: Don Miller.

Eva Kolenko is turning into a fashionista, and has been sending us boatloads of new personal work lately. Here's a couple from a recent shoot:

Michael Kelley just shot a piece on Wayne Pancelle, CEO of the Humane Society, for the NY Times Magazine:

There's more. So much more...but I'll have to post that tomorrow (next month?). Nah.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Mongolian Menagerie

Modern genetic research suggests Ghengis Khan is the direct ancestor of over 18 million men living in Asia today, according to the writer for OneLife Magazine. That was one busy dude! Morgan Silk recently traveled to Mongolia for the Land Rover pub to shoot some of those descendants, and came back with a HUGE amount of incredible images. It was a bitch to edit! We've finally whittled it down to a few over 50 images, which we've placed in a showcase for your viewing pleasure. Check it out here. Morgan also got word recently that the Harley Davidson campaign he shot with AD Bill Lee of Carmichael-Lynch got in the upcoming Graphis and Communication Arts Advertising Annuals. The headlines, which are impossible to read at this size, are incorporated into the bike parts via CGI magic.

This campaign from Morgan and pharma agency GSW Worldwide for Zyprexa should be making the award show rounds in the coming year too. Zyprexa is an anti depressant drug for people suffering from depression and bio-polar symptoms, and is aimed at doctors and other medical trade professionals. Morgan and his team NAILED it, if you ask me. Creative credits go to CD John Parkinson and AD Jeff Schatz. The agency producer was Marc Short, one of the best. Our producer was Berns Rothchild, who we love. Here are three of the nine portraits:

Friday, October 3, 2008

Here's to Annika Vogt!

A fair number of people have worked for Sharpe + Associates over the 20 years the company has been around, but none have matched Annika Vogt's contributions. In fact, few have even come close. In addition to managing the majority of our web content needs and executing our promotions, Annika currently handles ALL of our editorial projects, and ad/design clients from Minneapolis to the west coast. Those people know how great she is because they are always telling me so. She's creative, smart, sensitive, intuitive, funny, dedicated, honest, passionate, persistent, open-minded and multi-talented (she has a degree in Photography from Art Center College of Design, is a talented painter, has a very good eye for design, a strong fashion-sense and high aesthetics) Annika has the versatility to contribute to open-ended, blue-sky strategic/creative thinking, but can handle the large amounts of detail inherent to her job equally well. She has strong opinions and isn't afraid to share them. Those opinions have become valued by our talent, our clients and me.

She recently took it upon herself to learn Dreamweaver so she could design our monthly e-mail newsletters, giving us more creative control and saving time and money. Her first effort will promote our new site and updated roster, and will go out soon. Watch for it in your in-box!

You are the BEST, Annika!!

We are LIVE!!!

The new version of has finally been born!! In addition to a completely new look, larger images and rocket-fast speed, our new site offers visitors the ability to download fpo rez images and build custom lightboxes of images that they can email to others. So be sure to drop by and fully explore it's nooks and crannies if you haven't done so already, and bookmark it for future reference.

Besides the new bells and whistles on the front end, the site's administrative tools are amazing and provide incredible flexibility to manage the content as we see fit.

Now that it's live, we can finally turn our attention to executing all of the marketing/promotion we've had waiting in the wings for the past 3 months, so...get ready people! The tsunami is coming...

Creative credits for the new site go to by Daniel Stromborg of The Creative Common Good

Thanks, Daniel!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Labor Days

Damn. Summer's officially over now that Labor Day has passed. Reality has quickly settled back in, and we're cranking up again for the final push into the fall season, hopeful to continue our summer momentum into 2009. Though August passed with only one entry here, we have a lot of project news to share. So, in no particular chronological order, here is some of the scoop...

Zack Scott finished a campaign for Orbit Gum, shot for Energy/BBDO in Chicago and AD Ryan Dickey (who has since joined Deutsch/LA). Here is our favorite one from the bunch:

Hugh Kretschmer shot a whirlwind production for MasterCard to promote it's WorldCard, working with McCann Worldwide in NY. Creative credits go to: AD Richard Kluver and CD's Michele Raso and Robert Frost. Look for it in the current issue of Dwell.

Eva Kolenko and Butler Shine Stern & Partners created the first of a series of ads planned for the Marine Mammal Center. AD Jay Lorenzini. It was a labor of love for all involved. Yummy!

Jamey Stillings shot a corporate ad for Toyota through Dentsu America in New York to sell the company's social and environmental consciousness. Aaron Frisch (one of my all-time favorites) was the AD/CD on the job. Do I feel better now, driving my 12 year old Previa? Nah! But I'm still a HUGE fan of Toyota.

Matt Barnes created two images for Fairtrade Jewelry, a great project with an open creative brief: Create an image that speaks to the Renaissance and one based around the WWII pin-up aesthetic. Perfect fit.

...And the photographer gets a spanking during the wrap party. Life's a bitch!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

We've Grown Our Roster

Though you can't tell by looking at our current website, we've added three talented shooters to our roster: Matt Barnes, Michael Kelley and Adam Levey. They are waiting VERY patiently (as we are) for our redesigned site to launch, which at this point is significantly behind schedule. Meanwhile, we're spreading the news about them one client at a time.

Matt Barnes hails from Toronto, Canada, and is a very resourceful and multifaceted shooter with everything from automotive and music/celebrity to conceptual and still life to his credit. He also has a slightly naughty side which definitely adds to the entertainment value of his portfolio.

Michael Kelley shoots portraiture and lifestyle with the quirky sensibility he first applied as a junior writer for the "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air". A native of Las Vegas (he once lived in a hotel there), he now resides in Los Angeles and is the proud father of two beautiful girls.

Adam Levey moved two years ago from NYC to Portland, OR, and while there is more flannel in his closet now, he still operates at "Big Apple" speed and works with clients on both coasts. Adam's a still life specialist with a clean, technically crafted approach to his subject matter, but recently can be found crawling around with his new D-1 in hand, shooting spontaneous images of whatever strikes his fancy.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Photographic Inspiration

We look at lots of photography here at S+A, as you would imagine. There is a surprisingly vast amount of pretty average work out there; surprising, given how difficult it is to survive as a commercial photographer. I guess that's an indication of the nature of the market. Most advertising assignments don't require the kind of imagery that inspires. While we like to think of our own group differently, the fact is that even we don't put the majority of advertising work we do into our portfolios. Thankfully, editorial jobs have helped feed that need in the past, but even that is getting to be more of a challenge these days. That leaves personal work to do the heavy lifting. Kudos to those artists who manage to defy the odds (money, time, energy and inertia) to successfully create work on their own. Comrade did that recently with the "Three Girls" series below, which were inspired by the amazing "hair designs" done by Carlos Ortiz (many of the props were physically woven into the hair), along with the influence of two of the photographer's personal interests: graphic novels and Renaissance paintings. Other credits go to Elena Arroy for make-up and Gillean McLeod for wardrobe.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Managing Expectations

Does this ring a bell? "The good news is the creatives want you to do the job. The bad news is that the AE just told me that the budget is _______ (half of what we estimated)." Ouch. It's OLD news that production budgets have been declining for several years now, and with the economic climate continuing to darken, things aren't likely to change soon. Unfortunately, photographers have taken the biggest hit since EVERYONE wants the same quality at the end of the day, and to deliver it, we need the right amount of production infrastructure. Or do we? The real answer is "no". We could create fantastic images for less. The reality is that significant production monies are gobbled up by "process", due to clients' unwillingness to trust their agencies and vendors. Every little element must be pre-approved; every available option explored and formally served up well before the shoot for review so there is time to respond to comments like, "I like that location, but with the wallpaper from the one before..." Production to a large degree has become about managing expectations, and as things continue to tighten, I expect that will become even more important. It would be great if our agency counterparts would join in that effort and make it a collaborative one. Don't ask for Prada when the Gap will do. Don't promise the client a Jaguar when you only have the budget for a used Honda. Say "no" when they ask for things that don't make any sense. We do share the same goal, after all.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Work for Hire?

An Art Buyer from a respected global ad agency called today to ask my opinion. Turns out she has a meeting with one of the agency's biggest clients tomorrow (a HUGE packaged goods company for whom they've done some outstanding work) to respond to the client's cost consultant's recommendation that they initiate and enforce a work-for-hire agreement with all of the agency's creative "vendors" (I love that term...). For those of you who don't know, work-for-hire means that the "employer"(agency/client) owns ALL RIGHTS (including copyright) to anything produced on their behalf, in perpetuity. The originator has no rights to the work, nor does he or she receive any of the benefits other "employees" get (ie: insurance, 401k, supplies, etc..) It would be one thing if the budgets associated with work-for-hire projects were commensurate to the value of the copyright being granted, but unfortunately, clients pushing this agenda typically have LOWER budgets than those clients who aren't. Thankfully, this AB feels that such a policy could potentially have far greater negative consequences on the quality of the agency's work than the potential savings or convenience it would provide the client, and she was looking for as much ammo as she could get in order to make that case in the meeting. She's certainly right to be concerned, as work-for-hire is the last line in the sand for seasoned photographers and reps with integrity, and no one I know would agree to work under those terms. I wonder how long that will be the case...

Friday, June 27, 2008

I Miss the GMC Lot Guy

As a Laker fan, one thing that made the NBA Finals bearable to watch was a fantastic campaign for the GMC Denali. I generally don't favor automotive advertising in general and SUV/Truck ads in particular, but this campaign was infectious, due to some really smart decisions by the agency (Leo Burnett). Instead of focusing on the usual litany of product features or beautiful talent out for a fashionable good time in the city or the testosterone-driven running shots most in the category can't seem to get enough of (yawn!), the LB folks created an unforgettable character who, through his wacky banter with an unrecognizable but implied NBA star, connected the vehicle with "cool" in a very entertaining and relevant way. I was able to speak with the CD behind the work, Peter McHugh, and learned a few details I will share: Jesse Peretz of RSA was the Director. Keegan-Michael Key of MAD TV was the talent, and they booked him the day before shooting began. They shot with multiple cameras at the same time to make sure they captured all of Key's deliveries, as about half the copy was scripted and half was ad-lib. The footage was made into one short film, then cut down into 4 :30's. Other agency creative credits go to Jay Morrison and Ryan Inda. The Lot Guy is gone from the airwaves now that the NBA Finals are over. Oh well. If I need a fix, I can always go to YouTube. Check it out: