Monday, June 11, 2007
Nick Vedros - Funny Business
Photographer Nick Vedros has an eye for style and a head for business
Perhaps the biggest new challenge facing Vedros and his team is the temptation to forsake intensive preproduction with the knowledge that almost anything can be fixed digitally in post. In fact, there are times when Vedros chooses the postproduction approach.
“Quite frankly, the answer to the question is money,” he says. “What's cost-effective; what takes time? If it's cheaper to fix on the set, we'll fix it on the set. If it's cheaper to do digitally—which it usually is—then we'll do it digitally. And when it doesn't matter, it depends on which mood you're in. Ultimately, whatever color it is, it has to be right.”
Vedros is unconventional, even for a prominent commercial photographer known for producing quirky images. He isn't working in New York, nor is he based in Los Angeles or San Francisco. In fact, Vedros lives and works in Kansas City, Missouri—hardly a hotbed of the visual arts. But when you're as good as he is, clients come to you. Vedros has even turned his location into a business advantage.
“There are some cost savings to doing things in the Midwest,” he explains. “Generally, production people are less expensive, models are less expensive, and we're able to build things less expensively. It's often more cost-effective for clients to fly to Kansas City for a day or two than it is to shoot it in New York or L.A. So we try to take advantage of that. We have great space available here and there's a whole lot of talent; we just don't have as much depth in talent. We have maybe a handful of people, whereas other cities have a few hundred people.
“I'm bidding on a job right now out of New York for a hotel chain,” Vedros continues. “First, they said they wanted to shoot it in New York because of time; they can only dedicate maybe 24 or 48 hours to it. I knew if I did it in New York, it was going to be 40 to 45 grand. We estimated doing the job in Kansas City and it was closer to $28,000. You can probably save clients $18,000 to $20,000 if they're willing to jump on a three-hour plane ride. It's just three hours, and sometimes clients blow that on their commutes.”
Thanks to digital technology, Vedros' studio location becomes even less of a concern. His clients have always been willing to travel for his work, but now they can be assured that their bosses—who are often miles away—can instantly see what's happening in the studio, too. Since he's shooting digitally, Vedros can easily e-mail JPEGs around the globe for instant approval from the real decision-makers. It's another simple way that technology helps to please his clients and save them money.
Vedros' budgetary advantages make for good business, but it took a unique style and particular market niche to truly make a name for himself. Getting to this point wasn't always easy, and he didn't do it by photographing only the subjects he wanted to photograph.
“To a certain extent, shooting what you love is great,” says Vedros. “But if the work isn't marketable, then you're not going to make a living doing that. You can love going out and shooting landscapes, but if you can't find a niche for it, somebody who's going to purchase it on a regular basis, then you're going to have a tough career. You're not going to be able to support your passion.”
Along with developing his passion for photography, Vedros specifically charted a course that would allow him to incorporate his job into a well-rounded life.
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