In the spotlight

By The Drum, Administrator

October 5, 2006 | 3 min read

Stock photography, while often superb in its execution and inspiring in its subject matter, is not in the majority of instances always the best option when creating a communications campaign.

Creatives hate having to shoehorn words around stock shots. They also hate how the whole process can be obstructed by images that sort of communicate exactly what the client wants.

Of course, in a world where budgets are shrinking and then stretched over a multitude of sectors, it is sometimes understandable that some clients put pressure on agencies to cut production budgets. But, when this cost-cutting starts to impact on softer budgets – such as photography – what such clients lack is the appreciation of how well-thought out and brilliantly executed photography, shot specifically for the task at hand, can help create a uniquely memorable impression for a target audience.

The right image used well will not only brighten up any piece of communication, it can make the communication.

“When an agency commissions a good photographer, they don’t just get a selection of images that may or may not fulfil the brief at the end of the shoot, they commission the photographer’s input, style, ideas, and their interpretation of the brief,” says Robert Brady. “If the agency has done their research and chosen the right man for the job then these extras that the photographer brings to the table can mean the difference between a mediocre creative and an award winning one.

“Regarding photography as a soft budget is extremely harmful to the creative process, and the most infuriating for photographers,” he continues. “But the just deserts come with the fact that the only thing to suffer, other than the wallet of the photographer, is the overall quality of the creative. There is a saying that sums up this attitude...’ you pay peanuts, you get monkeys’.

“In fact, an agency once said to me, and I quote, ‘Well If you don’t do it for this price, then we’ll get some monkey with a digital camera to do it.’ I’ve never seen the results of an ape wielding a camera...but I wouldn’t hold my breath.”

Photographer David Boni agrees that reducing photographic budgets can be hugely detrimental to the creative process. “Stock shots instantly put the creative in a corner where they have to find the picture that may fit as opposed to creating the right image,” he says.

“When a photographer is commissioned to do a


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