In this series of blog posts, I talk to the people that commission photography, asking them for their inside knowledge and tips to help you understand what they look for from the other side of the fence.
I recently spoke to Tiffany Baron, co-founder of BeExposed...
Hello Tiffany, I hope you're well! To start with, can you tell our readers how we first met?
We first met when I was running BeExposed magazine (co founder and editor). We shot an urban fashion story in Shoreditch – which went extremely well.
BeExposed ran for about 3 years before we had to shut it down so that we could pursue different goals.
I then went on to become Head Editor at an online marketplace called Student High Street. My role there was to head up the creative and editorial teams.
More recently, I moved into a position at It's A Monthly Thing working as Senior Content and Creative Manager. This is a great role, focusing on female focused content across two different target markets – a great new challenge.
It sounds like you've been very busy since BeExposed. Within any of these positions, how involved would you say you are with the commissioning of photography?
All of the above roles have required me to be very involved with commissioning photography. I head up all the creative so it's up to me to create a brief for the photographer, roll out the planning with my teams, and finally be part of the sign off process before we commission a photographer.
Cool, so you're really a big part of the process when you're looking to work with someone! From your experience, what are the things you tend to look for when you're choosing a photographer to work with?
Well, this depends a lot on the nature of the shoot. I will be looking for what handwriting strengths the photographer has and that they marry up well with the story are we looking to create.
I tend to go back again and again to photographers who are fun and enjoyable to work with and who can also turn their edits around pretty fast – there's no room for divas here!
For me, it's important that a photographer will follow the brief well, but also that they are able to be vocal with other suggestions and willing to work collaboratively. A photographer who has precision as well as speed and nails their composition is always a winner to me.
Great answer! I've always thought that a photographer should see themselves as an integral part of the creative team, not a lone ranger with their own agenda.
So is photography an important part of the business that you work in?
The role of photography has always been very valuable in my work. Every company I've worked for have been very visual and content based so a high quality of imagery in fundamental.
That's great – so many companies rely on strong imagery to illustrate their content and help to inform their brand, so it's essential that people work with the right teams to bring that to life successfully.
Can you give our readers any advice on how to approach someone in your position, if they were looking to work with you?
A friendly email, asking what we're working on, with a catchy subject header will get my attention. I have so many emails to get through, so something that stands out will always stop me in my tracks. Include a link to your portfolio, and be ready to talk rates if we ask you to.
What level of involvement do you have with the photographer and the overall creative process?
Some briefs are very precise – for these, the job just needs to get done, so I leave it more up to the photographer. However, there are sometimes more creative editorials etc, in which I love to work collaboratively. I'll create a mood-board to discuss with the photographer, stylist and makeup artists so that we're all on the same page. This is a great way to encourage new ideas to be bounced around.
In my experience the most successful shoots have been the result of a joint creative venture.
I'm definitely one for collaboration – you never know just how much value different people's input can add!
How would you gauge the success of a good shoot?
By making sure we all understand the brief and the creative direction, the shots will reflect this. A successful shoot is one that is fluid from start to finish and one that has stuck to the time plan (although this rarely happens).
When a shoot is going well and we're getting amazing shots there's a certain buzz of adrenaline in the air. You can almost physically feel when a shoot is going well. Smiles and alert eyes are a good give-away. Essentially the brief needs to be met well, the budget stuck to, and no dramas!
Organisation, collaboration, hard work and fun – sounds like a good mix!
Before we wrap up, can you talk briefly about a project that we worked on together?
Sure, this is going back a while, to the urban shoot that you came along on. You weren't shooting the main editorial, but the behind the scenes images that you got were invaluable to us.
You did an amazing job of capturing candid moments throughout the shoot, which is also evidence of a successful job. The BTS shots were fun, happy and varied which showed that we'd achieved a lot in that shoot.
Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me Tiffany, it's been enlightening!
And thank you for reading! I'd love to know what you think, and if you have any burning questions that you'd like me to ask industry experts. Please feel free to leave your comments or get in touch by email, and I'll do my best to get your questions answered.