Art Buyer for The Shop (a subsidiary of Y&R), Sylvie Réveillard has +25 years experience working with photographers, models, artistic directors and creative directors organizing advertising projects and turning mock-ups into the final product.

How does your job fit into the marketing process? I’m not involved in the brief or the pitch. My job begins when the artistic and creative directors and the commercial team provide me with:

  • The client-approved advertising campaign mock-ups,
  • The time and budget constraints for the project,
  • Expectations and requirements for the campaign, such as 20 year old blonde models for a photoshoot in Southern France with a certain style photographer).

With this information, I then book/negotiate price and royalties (billboard, local or international, mailing, etc, press, magazine) with the model agencies, photographers and stylists, as well as location booking for the photoshoot.

Photographers frequently contact me to let me know they exist and to show me their book. I add them to my list of contacts and sometimes I’ll use them in an upcoming shoot for a client. I get about 6 appointments per week meeting new photographers and illustrators.

To book models I go through the modeling agencies with specific requests, and the model bookers send me composites of all their models that correspond to my needs. I then meet with the creative and artistic directors to look at the composites, set up castings, and meet the models to take test photos.

I have done street castings or ran across a person in a café that I thought would be perfect for an upcoming campaign, and if they’re interested and our client agrees, we get that person registered with a model agency. Going through model agencies avoids certain legal issues (outlined by SYNAM) because you cannot pay models directly. Plus going through agencies also guarantees a minimum level of competency for the models.

Just before the photoshoot I meet the client for a PPM (Pre-Production Meeting) to discuss any last minute details. Many times the client doesn’t even know my job exists until they meet me for the first time at the photoshoot.  Then they understand who I am and why I’m so necessary.

During the shoot we have the mock-ups from the brief and must do exactly as the mock-ups show. Once we’ve done the mock-ups, then we can play around and choose alternatives so the client has more options to choose from.

In the event of complications such as bad weather, equipment and booking problems, running out of time, or a thousand other little things, I must factor that into the original price, and I must anticipate and plan for every possible contingency.

After the photoshoot the client confirms and requests changes before the photos are retouched. After the photos have been retouched, I turn in the final advertising project to the creative director and artistic director who then present the final project to the client. From that point on I’m no longer involved in the project.

What’s a campaign you’ve worked on?

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What’s a misconception people commonly have? For clients with a limited budget and time constraints, it can be next to impossible to meet their demands. Regardless, it’s my job to find a solution. This can be difficult because the next time I have to find another difficult solution to a difficult problem. Because we came through last time and produced next to impossible results, we’re expected to come through the next time. It’s a challenge and I like it.

What if the client get’s too intrusive during the photoshoot? I reconfirm everything with the client during the PPM before the photoshoot begins to avoid this kind of complication. If it’s not okay for certain stylist or models before, I have a few days to fix the solution. To date I’ve never had a problem with an intrustive client during a photoshoot. Normally all is agreed during the PPM. Once the mock-ups are done, then any additional photos the client wants can be done.

What’s an important lesson you’ve learned? Be rigorous! When you’re dealing with a limited budget and a limited time constraint, you have to think about and anticipate every little detail. Before a photoshoot you must create and distribute all the team and call sheets (name, telephone number of the team: photographer, models, artistic and creative directors, maps to and from location, addresses of hotels and restaurants, train scheduling, etc.) You may have several models arriving and leaving at different times during the day. You may have a trampoline that breaks and needs to be fixed or replaced on the spot. Everything has to run like clockwork and be taken care of down to the smallest detail, and it’s your fault if something goes wrong.

Anticipating this is very important because sometimes during the shooting the photographer may need additional material not included in the original contract. These additional expenses aren’t included in the original price so you must even negotiate during the shooting to stay within the budget. Sometimes you may take a model for only 4 hours and if the shoot hasn’t yet finished and the mock-ups completed, you must pay everyone for the overtime, plus transportation, plus hotel and meals if need be. That’s why when you make an original estimate keep into account extra money to act as a cushion just in case something happens.

For example, once I casted a little red-headed boy. When he came to the shoot a week later his hair had been died brown. I had to call the model booker to get a red-headed replacement model immediately or do the photoshoot and then retouch the photos and change the hair color.  I even had to consider the possibility of having to do a second photoshop at a later date and replacing the model’s head.

Fortunately the client adapted to the dilemma and was okay with the brown-haired boy, but for a client paying a lot of money for a quality advertising campaign, this kind of leniency isn’t normal.  Therefore you have to plan for every contingency and have all the answers.

Where do you go for ideas/inspiration? I maintain a contact list of all the photographers and their agent’s websites such as amgardinier.com as well as local modeling agencies and acting agencies. I visit them daily to see most recent photos and techniques to stay up-to-date.

Advice for someone who wants to do your job? Be very, very good at time and budget management. Have a passion for photography and culture in general. Frequently visit expositions of photographers in to find new photographers.

What’s your favorite ad campaign?

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I have a small advertising budget, any advice? Sometimes a simple idea such as still life or just unrecognizable people, or even a simple illustration, are easier to do and more interesting. Consider using images without models because they can be less expensive. Find a simple idea. Often the simple idea is very good.

If you’re good at photography you can take your own photos and retouch them yourself.

It may be cheaper to buy the rights of a photographer to use just 1 of his/her photos already taken rather than pay a photographer to take unique photos for you. Consider using a royalty free photobank. For example, shoot a photo of the sea yourself, and then pay for the rights to retouch an island into your photo.

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