So pleased to present this conversation between writer Brooke Hodess and Art Buyer Chrissy Borgatta Liuzzi.
Q & A with Senior Art Producer Chrissy Borgatta Liuzzi, Part One
Orange County, California–based Senior Art Producer Chrissy Borgatta Liuzzi began her career as a photo editor for Entrepreneur magazine out of Irvine. There she learned to work with budgets, deadlines and production teams and began building relationships with photographers, agents and stock photography houses.
Her foray into advertising was, you could say, a baptism by fire, working as a junior art buyer with L.A.’s TBWA\Chiat\Day on high-profile accounts including Nissan and Infiniti as well as Apple’s “Think Different” campaign and the launch of the first iMac.
With stints at Y&R (Lincoln, Mercury, Land Rover, Jaguar) and Doner Advertising (Mazda), her expertise in art producing for automotive accounts led her to her current position as a senior art producer at Innocean Worldwide, working on the Hyundai account from their North American Headquarters in Huntington Beach.
Visual Connections recently met up with the 25-year photo-shoot veteran for a Q & A. In part one, we address the role of an art producer, the evolution of stock photography and the impact of digital.
VC: Describe your role as an art producer?
CBL: As an art producer I work from the agency side. Once a creative concept is approved it is my responsibility to bring the creative concept to life. I recommend photographers, illustrators, Instagram influencers, CG vendors—whichever type of artist is needed with the latest technology to create the best result. I work with agents and producers to negotiate the most cost effective way to produce the job without compromising the creative integrity of the project. I also secure and manage license and usage agreements for photography, talent and stock photography images on our client’s behalf.
VC: Throughout your career, how much have you relied on stock photography?
CBL: I use stock photography all the time, I always have. When I started as a photo editor I had huge bookcases of stock photography catalogs. For the magazine we used conceptual images for smaller articles. Back then we’d place orders over the phone, and then a research of images or the image I wanted would be sent to me via Fed Ex in sleeves of 35mm or medium format transparencies. By the end of an issue I would have stacks of packages that would have to be audited and returned.
VC: What stock house do you tend to use? Is there a reason you use one over another?
CBL: When I worked at Entrepreneur, there were a lot of stock photography companies back then. Many of those companies have since been absorbed by Getty Images or Corbis. These are the main go-tos. I also use Shutter Stock, Veer, Jupiter Images, CSA Images and others.
I use Getty Images quite frequently because, though at times I can find the same image on another site, Getty has a stronger legal contract, and so we tend to pay slightly more for the added backing for royalty-free images. If we know we are going to use an image for a one-time use then we will go direct to the other house and pay less.
I will add, when it comes down to it, the final decision is made by the content. The image has to be right and if it is the right image then I will negotiate the proper usage, and usage is documented so we can manage it internally.
VC: Has the perception of stock photography changed over the years?
CBL: I have watched the stock photography industry evolve to the sophisticated digital age we are in now. I think you still come across stock images that have a stereotypical and/or unrealistic staged look—the senior citizen in the hospital bed looking great, feeling fine and everyone is happy—and it can be difficult to find the right image that has that person looking realistic, that is not overly groomed, with perfect makeup, perfectly pressed hospital gown, and so on. I think it is very hard to capture an emotion that is authentic and appropriate for advertising. However, there are a lot of great images and photographers out there and stock photography is always improving.
VC: What about changes in licensing?
CBL: License agreements have also evolved. In the olden days it was all rights managed licenses. You pretty much paid for an image on a one-time use basis, at least for editorial, and that was it. It was way too expensive to pay for unlimited usage. Then royalty-free was introduced. At first it was unlimited use, unlimited time in all media. Now royalty-free usage is getting stricter, and it is extremely important to read the license agreements to ensure you have enough usage secured.
VC: Do you miss those old bookcases of catalogs?
CBL: Not at all! With everything online, the process is faster, research is easier, and with corporate accounts we have access to download un-watermarked images for comping. Being able to access your account information is invaluable; we have access to all of our invoices, download history and licensing updates. The old-school way, with its volume of paper, books and space … today’s process is so much better for the environment and just a simpler way altogether.
VC: Staying in that same vein of the impact of digital and the Internet on stock photography, how has the business of art producing changed?
CBL: I do not know if the job has really changed. I think I am the one who is changing and forever learning. For example, when I started as a junior art buyer we were transitioning from shooting transparency film into digital formats. I remember looking at the digital images and saying, ‘I am not impressed.’ Well, it didn’t take long before I was impressed, and now I look back and think how laborious it was to shoot film.
Check out Part Two to this Q & A next month, where we chat with Liuzzi about breaking into the art producing business, networking, and one of her personal favorite photo shoots in minus 6 degrees.