Letting photographers, animators and illustrators do their thing

by / Saturday, 27 July 2013 / Published in Concept development

I admit this, flat out …if you’re a micro-manager, I’m laughing to myself about the stress you cause yourself. I don’t apologize either. I’ve never understood the impulse to smother people with yourself and make their day suck, and yours (I have to assume) too. Maybe  you can’t help yourself – you come from generations of micro-managers. That, or you surround yourself with people you can’t trust. Either way – not good. What’s most tragic about this, is that you’ll never get out of anyone, anything better than what you yourself are capable of. This is particularly true in the creative business. You gotta let people shine. Especially, people with skills you don’t possess, like photographers, animators and illustrators.

In the act of creating a campaign, or even a one-off design piece, you’re going to need assets now and again. When you have an image budget of more than $120 (a real, decent budget that is), you have the opportunity to work with some other really talented people. This is gold. My greatest pleasure in the creative business has been working with photographers, animators and illustrators. I LOVE it. The good ones have an energy that sweeps me into it too, and we have a blast at shoots, or in briefings and reviews. I learned early on (thankfully) that the best way to approach any image development phase of a project is with a completely open mind, and no expectations. When everyone knows the concept, and what has to be delivered, this is when the magic really happens.

All my best design work using original assets was from completely letting go. The most I gave the photographer was a loose sketch of the concept, or the illustrator a vague idea of the tone and manner of the piece or the animator a very loose storyboard with all the bits that had to be included. Nothing more. When they’re free to interpret, they’ll think of things you could never. Period. The key, of course, is to choose a photographer, illustrator or animator who’s work you like. If they get excited about the project, watch out – good stuff will follow.

And, by the way – they’re not “suppliers”. They’re your creative partner on this one. Give them the credit and appreciation. They earned it, and they’ll want to do solid work for you. I even had a photographer once accept a project for 30% his normal fee. It was a tight budget and we didn’t have a choice. I told him not to even quote, but he enjoyed working on our projects so much, he didn’t care about discounting one shoot. We went ahead, and it was a fantastic project. Once you create respect and appreciation, things quickly advance to the next level, no matter how good your work is already. It’ll get even better.

Leave the micro-managing for your weekend puzzle-building projects. Let talented people do what you can’t do, or you’ll have nothing in your book any better than what you yourself can create. Know what I mean, Jelly-Bean?

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