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(Read time = 3 minutes)  Shhhhhhh, don’t tell – this B2B Marcom job can be loads of fun!  Once a month or so, Idig back to some adventures and some of the lessons learned.  For the newly hired and/or newly minted, a Marcom assignment offers up the chance for grand fun while serving the greater outbound good – if you prime yourself to be nimble and open to the opportunities.

The set-up:  I needed dramatic, page stopping tech-industry component parts photography – so went looking for a food specialist who knew light, knew texture and would embrace an unexpected client assignment.

The Lesson Learned:  Look sideways for creative solutions.  Tapping an adjacent field, tangent expertise can produce unexpected innovation.  Find resources that personally invest in your success.

The Story and The Adventure

Food FotoSMOut of university, my profession was news photographer and journalist.  On the photog side, I’d never been exposed nor experienced with “studio” shooting.  I knew enough to know it was all about light… all about color and texture… but after that, totally clueless.  When I took my first big-company Marcom job, the photo expert label stuck, and the “news” angle was lost.  I quickly found myself tasked w/a new product launch involving electronic pieces/parts.

With only cursory direction, I was told to “just go get it done, you’re the best authority we’ve got”.   Duh… sure thing.  Quick conversations w/my Chicago Agency partner produced a plan for pre-screening and then face-to-face visits for portfolio reviews.  I asked to fully participate, not just be handed the Agency’s final selection or even top-three.  Two weeks later, we were off and running hard.

Day One was a disaster.  Photographers proposed were the typical, tech/hard part guys.  While quality, there was little innovation, little spark.  Over drinks that night, the Agency Creative Director and I had a “robust” discussion and we re-scoped Day Two in an entirely new direction.

We went looking for shooters that knew ice cream, not electronics!  Seriously. 

We dumped the planned schedule and hustled to build a day two of reviews with food photographers (Chicago has some of the world’s best).  Our epiphany was that getting a shooter very smart as to lighting, color, texture was the path to exciting new imagery rather than trying to art direct someone already mind-set in the product category. Yes, it took a well lubricated Agency dinner to discover the solution, but was well worth the expense. 

The approach probably could have been distilled to a Creative Brief  and then handed to the Agency to make a selection, but I was the one on the line so face-to-face seemed way better.  It was critical to assess which of the photographer could grasp the assignment and who found it most interesting (amazing what better results occur when photographers, writers, designers personally invest in the outcome rather than just the job being one more job).

Ultimately, we found just the guy.  We spent an evening and morning with the shooter discussing the intended audience, the need for an inspired approach and what we thought success would look like. The shoot was scheduled, product shipped in, and a month later I was in-studio watching the magic happen. 

Pure Fun:  In studio with a real pro.  Day of the shoot was an exciting blend of color gels, unusual camera point-of-view angles and an (at the time) unique approachs to “product-as-hero” photography that ultimately we were able to marry with crisp copy to produce award-winning national advertising.  Because the shooter’s mindset was anything but electronics component parts, the approach was fresh… the pictures even better.  How cool is that!

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