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.

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