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Content Strategy in 2021 and Beyond with Clair Carter-Ginn of Forecast

Chief evangelist at Creative Force

Full episode transcript

Daniel Jester:
From Creative Force, I'm Daniel Jester, and this is the E-commerce Content Creation Podcast. I am thrilled to welcome back to the show, Clair Carter-Ginn of Forecast for a freewheeling discussion about the future of content strategy. Recent global events have really primed the industry to adapt new and progressive ways of working. We get into the impact of remote work on studio teams and communication, the speed at which social media needs to run and how that impacts asset management. We even get a visit from our old friend, New York City on the episode in the form of very loud background honking.

Clair Carter-Ginn:
Yes, it was driven by the social team, but we also, as I said, we had merchandising, we had marketing, we had leadership involved, we had the studio involved, we had obviously the E-comm team involved. Then of course the DC had to get involved. How many of these do we have? Can we get these out the door? Where are they coming in from? There's your New York moment in the back with the honking. Had to happen.

Daniel Jester:
Coming up on October 5th, just a little under a month from the date that this episode goes live, Clair will be the conference chair for the upcoming Photo Ops Forum 2021 hosted by Henry Stewart Events. The event is being co-located with the Festival of Creative Ops, and the speaker list is a who's who of past guests of this very podcast. You can hear more from past guest, Curran Calhoun of Gap Inc., upcoming podcast guest, David Iscove of Cella and past podcast guests, Carrie Crow of Hello Fresh, Ali McLeod of Sax Fifth Avenue and Brian Guidry of Pixelz. All of them are just some of the speakers lined up for this event.

Daniel Jester:
Please check out the links in our show notes for information on the event and details on how to register or stick around to the end of the episode for a link. That's right, I'm going to make you stick around before I give out that link to you. I want you to listen to the whole thing. Now with that, let's get into the episode.

Daniel Jester:
This is the E-commerce Content Creation Podcast. I'm your host, Daniel Jester, and my guest today reprising her appearance, I guess, on the podcast ... I don't know what we say about podcasts ... Clair Carter-Ginn of Forecast Agency. Clair, how are you?

Clair Carter-Ginn:
I'm great. Thank you so much for having me back on, Daniel. It's a pleasure to be here as always.

Daniel Jester:
Of course. I'm very excited to get into our topic today with you, which is Olympic coverage recapping. No, I'm just kidding. Just before we started recording, we were talking about the Olympics. At the time that we're recording this, the Olympics are about, I guess, a little over halfway through.

Clair Carter-Ginn:
Yes.

Daniel Jester:
But that's not what we're talking about today.

Clair Carter-Ginn:
But a captivating subject nonetheless, that everyone should be thinking about. Yeah.

Daniel Jester:
Very interesting. It's really interesting, I think to get to see the athletes without the energy of the crowd. I think the energy is still there, but I feel like it probably makes their job a lot harder.

Clair Carter-Ginn:
Oh, absolutely. It's like working in a studio.

Daniel Jester:
Yeah. But if you don't have an audience, what's it all for? There's a couple of reasons that we invited Clair back on the show. A common thread through past episodes of the podcast has been the shift of content studio from transactional and just a sort of operational part of the business to something a little bit more strategic.

Daniel Jester:
Clair, your position in the industry, you have sort of a high-level view of a lot of places that are doing this. We're going to have a little bit of kind of a freewheeling conversation about building the strategic content studio and what some of the trends that we're seeing are, ways that we can support that.

Daniel Jester:
Someday we're going to be out of the pandemic ... We've had some fits and starts here ... But someday we're going to be back full swing, ready to do this. So I guess the way to start this kind of conversation is what's next for content creation studio in your view, Clair?

Clair Carter-Ginn:
Well, that's not a heavy question or anything, but I think that part of why I was excited about this when we were talking about what to discuss on the podcast was simply because this is something I think everyone or most of the people that you've had as guests do touch on because everyone seems to be in a similar position. I always think it's interesting that, despite our different categories that we work within and the different channels that we work within and whether we're retail B2B, B2C, whether we're an agency or in house, a lot of us are still dealing with the same things around the big three that, of course we like to talk about: the people, the process, the technology, which I think applies to obviously studio ops as much as creative ops. But we are at a really unique position.

Clair Carter-Ginn:
As we've spoken, you really started the podcast at a time when we were all sort of, I think, still dazed from the pandemic in terms of what's opening up, how are we doing this, how do we need to pivot? What do we need to do to get the work done today? What content can we create? Being really less strategic and more tactical as you said about getting the work done. So I think that now we're getting out of the weeds and into a place where we can start being a little bit more strategic. Certainly people are shopping as we all know, and they want that content back again. I think we've all been creating what we need to get things up on the websites. It really has been focused on the selling and less of the telling to go back to sort of an old school phrase from my advertising days.

Clair Carter-Ginn:
But I think we can move from being reactive to proactive. This is something that I'm excited about because obviously strategy is sort of my place of being. It's what I like to do. But I think that it's also exciting because I think leadership from the studio standpoint really has the opportunity now to say, "All right, the teams are back in some capacity. We figured out how we need to get the work done day to day. Now I can step back and think about how we can move forward."

Clair Carter-Ginn:
Digital transformation, as we've certainly talked about in the past and how you've talked about it with other people on the podcast and this sort of focus on digital that many brands have had to undertake, it's meant a change in the type and the frequency of content that we've had to create. I know I've mentioned it before, but I love the term content velocity just in terms of how much content people expect and how much content we have to provide for the different platforms that we're on. It's not just E-commerce photography and campaign photography. You've got everything in between.

Clair Carter-Ginn:
In many cases, we're having to do that without additional resources. So we don't have more budget. We don't have more people. We're doing this alongside reopening of the offices and the studios and transitioning things from the scrappy methodology we've been using for the last six to 12 months to figuring out now we're running back whether, we're at 50% or 80% or 100% capacity in the studio, how are we going to move it forward? Also, one of the things I've heard a lot from people lately is really the challenge around samples. Daniel, I think you know I love to think about and talk about the sample conundrum as I call it. Getting the samples, where are they coming from, where are they sitting?

Clair Carter-Ginn:
There's a shortage of everything right now and especially product. How you're planning things out for the future, we're having to be a little bit more agile, but I think that we're able to plan a little bit. But let's face it, we're also hiring. We're also onboarding new teams. We're onboarding teams that might not be in the office. We're struggling around getting equipment. So saying all that, we have to stay tactical and we have to stay agile, but we also are ready to look into a longer term strategy. I think that's the most important thing, as I had mentioned about having a strong studio team of workflow is that studio leadership can now step into looking at less of the day-to-day, more at the month-to-month and hopefully year-to-year what's coming down the pipeline six months from now as much as what our teams are focusing on what's on deck six days from now.

Clair Carter-Ginn:
So one of the great things I think about being able to create a longer term strategy is that we're in a unique time, and this is a unique opportunity to do what I call review and improve on what we've done in the past. So we can look at what we did pre-pandemic, and a lot of times that was rinse and repeat for a lot of our projects. We can look at what we did in terms of having to pivot during COVID, and now we can really decide what do we want to hold onto going forward and what is it that we want to evolve and change. In many cases, things that we used to do are going to come right back in and things that we did during the pandemic are going to stay right along with it, and in some cases we're going to throw some stuff away and come up with new strategies for how to get it done going forward.

Clair Carter-Ginn:
I think there is an openness at the leadership level in the C-suite for hearing input from the teams on how we're going to get it done going forward because we are in a totally unprecedented time. Nobody knows how to come back from a pandemic. We haven't done it, oh God, since what was it, Spanish influenza, and clearly we were not in the digital transformation then. So I think that we have a unique opportunity to educate and to spend time brainstorming and being strategic in our planning that can then help us educate up to leadership and to the C-suite in terms of what needs to happen. That comes back down too. One of the things I always tell people is we need to look at business goals and what the C-suite, what their goals are. I've seen too many organizations where people on the ground level are busy getting the work done, and they don't necessarily have the visibility into what the business plans or the goals are up top and leadership really needs to inform down.

Clair Carter-Ginn:
So we're kind of coming from both angles and meeting in the middle. It's like building, I remember ... This is this crazy side note story ... But when I lived in Minneapolis, they were building a big expressway that went from one suburb to downtown. So they started from downtown and they started from the suburb, and the whole plan was to meet in the middle. Well, clearly communication wasn't good because when the two pieces came, they missed each other.

Daniel Jester:
No.

Clair Carter-Ginn:
I feel as though this is a little bit of how we've been operating in terms of our strategy. So now we have a unique opportunity to be more thoughtful about that and have more informed conversations and better communication from the get-go. Doesn't mean everything's going to be peaches and roses, but it does mean that we have an opportunity to educate and to inform leadership and also have them educate and inform us on what they want and then find that middle ground that then can drive the strategy for studio, for creative ops, for the whole nine yards. I think it's really going to help teams become better aligned.

Daniel Jester:
One thing I want to touch on is that it's kind of a good plug for our KPI Guide as well because Adam Parker touches a lot on how to connect those top down goals, which are sometimes ambiguous. Not ambiguous, but they're phrased differently. The way that he puts it is it's a little like a top line C-suite goal might be something as vague as improve operational efficiency. It's kind of up to every other department to figure out what that means to them. But having that line of communication definitely can connect those things. One of the things that you said to me as sort of a little bit of a distillation of everything that we've talked about up to this point really is that shoot and see doesn't really work anymore.

Clair Carter-Ginn:
Yes. Yes.

Daniel Jester:
We are now in, when I think about the life cycle of E-comm and creative production, we've said before on the show that the first big watershed moment in retail around content and creative production was really the 2008 recession. If that's the case, then certainly COVID was the second big watershed moment, which means we're going to come out of this. We're already seeing major shifts. I'll be honest with you, Clair, I had not given a lot of thought to the impact of remote work on content production, but it is going to impact that-

Clair Carter-Ginn:
Absolutely.

Daniel Jester:
Because people want to work remote. They know that it can work now. I'm certainly an advocate for it. I've recaptured a lot of hours of my life back that I could spend with my children by not having to commute and being able to work remote. But there's going to be some communication impacts to that. It just means that being strategic upfront really, really becomes so much more important.

Clair Carter-Ginn:
Well, it's interesting that you mentioned three things that I think are sort of three of my top big takeaways from what we've just been through in terms of how we've had to operate and create content during the pandemic, which is communication, remote work or multiple locations, and future strategy, which includes contingency planning.

Clair Carter-Ginn:
So I think there are plenty of takeaways, but these are three things that I'm finding that I really want to say to clients, "Think about these three things as you go forward." Obviously, there's tons of things that go underneath this. But to your point, let's talk a little bit about sort of the multiple locations, remote work. I know that we've seen an increased open mindedness with a lot of organizations to having remote workers and to having multiple locations for content creation. I think we'd all love to have one centralized studio. I think that in the past that might have been always the big strategy unless you're a global organization and then you might have three to five main studios, but it's not necessarily something that's realistic.

Clair Carter-Ginn:
So having that conversation about how to make it work now and then what the strategy is going forward, I think that, that also includes remote work. So having people, not unlike yourself, who has a home studio where things can happen for clients if need be. I know a photographer who does a lot of work for a watch company. He basically went into the office during the pandemic, it was closed, got some equipment, took it home, and I might have mentioned this when we were talking about casting and talent, and he and his wife became the models for the watches on the website because that was the way the content needed to get done. I said it before, and I love saying this, but we were scrappy, we were agile, we were thoughtful, but we got it done. Now I think we've proven to leadership that we can do that, and we can do it in a way that doesn't necessarily feel like we're sort of throwing things at the wall to see what sticks. It really is more thoughtful than that.

Daniel Jester:
Shoot and see. It doesn't work anymore. It's sort of the creative production version of that idea of throwing the spaghetti on the wall. It's like, shoot and see. We can't. Just because we have the capacity, digital cameras, virtually unlimited storage, does not mean that, that's what's going to work with our content strategy for sure.

Clair Carter-Ginn:
Yes, absolutely. I think that goes back to communication, not to kind of pivot.

Daniel Jester:
Yeah. Absolutely.

Clair Carter-Ginn:
But when you have these remote work situations ... I remember at some previous organizations I was at that were global organizations where the majority of the content was created out of the home office, which in both cases was in the United States ... A lot of times the challenges that we had was with communications with the global offices, with EMEA and APAC. It was limited to email and maybe one big marketing or content summit per year. Zoom was certainly not a thing pre-pandemic. If you were a big organization that had access to a video communication system or conferencing system, you were certainly way above any place that I was, and so we did not have the level of communication and collaboration that we do now.

Clair Carter-Ginn:
I think that that is one of my favorite things that's come out of this is again, the fact that leadership understands that we can get it done in a remote capacity and we can get it done in multiple locations and we can create beautiful work. I actually feel that in many ways, I feel closer to my clients than maybe I did before, even though perhaps I was seeing them once a year. But I'm not going to Milan, I'm not going to London, I'm not going to San Francisco right now. I live in Brooklyn, and I'm only maybe in the last few months going into Manhattan. Even there, I don't think many people are back at work. Studios are back, but a lot of the offices are still trying to figure it out. So we're all still doing a lot of virtual coffees, we're still figuring out are we shooting on location, are we in a studio? What does this look like?

Clair Carter-Ginn:
But with the increased communication and collaboration tools that we have both bought into, whether it's something more formalized like a tool, or whether it's picking up the phone or just saying, "Can we have a conversation via a video chat," or whether it's actually getting together in person, I think that there is this camaraderie that is different than it was before, and God knows we all miss the studio life and that family sense-

Daniel Jester:
Absolutely.

Clair Carter-Ginn:
I think we all had. But I do feel like there is a communication and collaboration with the other divisions and our internal clients and our external vendors and partners that's on a level that we didn't have before. I think that is extremely exciting.

Daniel Jester:
I'd love to share a quick story if I can about the beginning of sort of the pandemic. Not to rehash it too much, but I was working for a boutique content studio in Los Angeles, and one of our big clients was a jewelry company that sold direct to consumer. We had their whole spring and summer line in our possession in mid-March when we needed to close. I brought all of that jewelry home with me. Normally I would've been in the studio and I would've hired a photographer and a stylist to come in and do all of this work. I brought the jewelry home with me, and I shot it at home. I know that my home studio's very capable, and I also know that I can, in that environment work the hours when I'm most productive when it comes to creative work. For me, that tends to be kind of late at night, usually around after my kids go to bed-

Clair Carter-Ginn:
Yes.

Daniel Jester:
9:00, 10:00, 11:00 PM, I can be very productive. I can do a lot of very good work in those hours that are not normal sort of working hours. But the other thing that came out of that was we had to build a robust process to hand off images to our retoucher, who was several cities away and wasn't going to have access to the product. We sat down and we did image by image review of the things that needed to be done, which we had never really done when we were both standing in the same studio before. That was the first time that we ever got back from the client the images with zero notes or revisions in the first round.

Clair Carter-Ginn:
Wow.

Daniel Jester:
It was just like a huge proof of concept for me that giving people more flexibility to work in this way lets them work when they're most productive.

Clair Carter-Ginn:
Yes.

Daniel Jester:
It also forces us to build these communication lines into our process that allows for things like better handoff from production to post-production and better reviewing of images and things like that. I want to tie this communication back to strategy though. The whole point of talking about the idea of remote work is we have to build these lines of communication-

Clair Carter-Ginn:
Yes.

Daniel Jester:
To ensure the strategic parts of the studio can succeed the way they need to succeed because one of the things that I'm seeing in merchandisers are going to want to work remotely. That feels like a given to me, right?

Clair Carter-Ginn:
Yep.

Daniel Jester:
The merch team, they live in spreadsheets. They don't need to be in a physical location very often. That's one of the areas where I think we may see some communication lines that historically may have been a little bit difficult between merchandising and creative operations might get a little bit more streamlined because we have to. It's not about who doesn't communicate with whom. It's just that these people are working remote and maybe some senior or mid-level studio leaders are also working remote and they just have to communicate better.

Clair Carter-Ginn:
Absolutely. I think that's something that's happened ... You and I have talked about this a little bit in the past in terms of one of the things that I love is a scope of work. I think we've come a long way in terms of developing a scope of work for the creative operations piece and the content creation piece. Certainly as people have built out in house agencies, they've brought that methodology for the scope of work to the in house agency so that we can manage things like scope creep and budgeting and resource allocation and management, et cetera.

Clair Carter-Ginn:
But I think that we're now looking at it for the studio, and I've seen a few studios bring it on board. I think it's a great tool. I think that right now it is a great way to, I'd love to say be 100% clear on priorities with your internal clients and your different divisions, but maybe even 80% clear on priorities just so we know and we have a better idea of what's coming down the pipeline because the studio has always been and certainly post-production have always been crunched because as projects are kicked off, everyone is well-meaning and we know what the product is. We might know what the budget is. We might know what the timeline is.

Clair Carter-Ginn:
This goes back to my other favorite thing other than samples, which is a clear creative brief, which I'm sure we could do a whole podcast about. But I think that understanding what everybody, the merchants, marketing, again, your external clients, your internal clients, growing that communication. So having the scope of work, whether it's for on a project by project basis, or if you're bigger organization having a year long or quarterly scope of work that you continue to look at and review, it has to be a little bit ... It can't be set in stone. It has to be editable because things change. But I think there's something about that, that really allows us to, again, it takes advantage of that collaboration and communication that we're building, but it also puts in place the prioritization and it puts in place, "Hey, everybody. Here is what we need to do in order to get the work done and the content that you're looking for."

Clair Carter-Ginn:
To your point about shoot and see, we now have ... I mean the plethora of content and the versioning that we have to create, it's not just one image. It's God, I mean 150 to 200 versions sometimes of one image that needs to go to in store, social, YouTube. I mean, the craziest stuff we're creating now, and if we don't have a clear vision of that from the beginning, we're going to be scrambling at the end. That obviously ends up with things either missing timelines so you're stretched from a time standpoint, you're stretched from a budget standpoint, you're stretched from a people resource standpoint, you don't have enough equipment to get the work done. I mean, there's so many places where that could get bottlenecked.

Clair Carter-Ginn:
I think the scope of work again, is a great tool for both studios and creative operations teams to use in terms of content creation to be more clear because when you have that sign off, then everybody's aware and when you have a change of scope or scope creep, you can sort of, I hate to say it, but it's a little bit of cover your behind and saying, "Here's what we all agreed to. This is what we planned on. We now have this times 10. What's the priority? I need everybody to weigh in on this," because of course again, everybody thinks that their work is the priority, and you have to have a way to kind of check in and make sure that we're all still on the same track. That goes back to the overall business strategy and the team strategy. But again, that scope of work can help you outline what needs to get done. I think that's a big piece of being strategic is making sure that everyone's aligned before we even kick things off.

Daniel Jester:
What I love about the idea of the scope of work is that it can be directly tied back to goals and strategy.

Clair Carter-Ginn:
Yes.

Daniel Jester:
So it's a natural evolution of those things. As you're saying this, not to specifically plug Creative Force, but we're recording this ... It's just the beginning of August, but this episode probably will not go live until later into September. One of the things that we've been working on at Creative Force is an editorial module. The things about the editorial module that we realized very quickly is that it needs to be very loose. E-comm content creation for product photography is very prescriptive, very defined, very easy to build a track with guardrails that make a lot of sense to everybody. But editorial, there's so many variables that can't be controlled. It's just about getting the assets.

Clair Carter-Ginn:
Yes.

Daniel Jester:
It's not about the process being perfect, it's about getting the shots you need.

Clair Carter-Ginn:
Right.

Daniel Jester:
One of the things that can allow you to some extent to have a scope of work but also be able to expand that scope of work in a way that allows you to plan for the correct resources is to have a workflow tool potentially like the upcoming Creative Force editorial module.

Clair Carter-Ginn:
Yes.

Daniel Jester:
So if you want to learn more about that listener, either there will be something coming out about that or it's already out depending know when this podcast goes live. To some extent you need to embrace that there are some variables here. If the scope of work is say, you're going to send 15 hero images to post-production at the end of that shoot, we don't need to be so specific as to define what those 15 are. Leave yourself a little bit open to say, "We have resources for 15. Let's see how the shoot goes. Plug those in."

Daniel Jester:
On the other side of that, to Rob DiCaterino's point when he was on the episode talking about post-production, sometimes it's also just a matter of being willing to provide more resources. So if you come out of that shoot with 25 excellent hero images, nobody's saying we can't do that. Maybe we just need to open up the purse and provide some additional resources. I loved his line about over promising and under resourcing. It's not a matter of under delivering, it's under resourcing as the reason you under deliver. That's why I love that kind of thing.

Daniel Jester:
I want us to pivot really quickly, Clair, this is a little bit maybe random, but we just talked about it last time we spoke. I thought it was really interesting. You mentioned social a moment ago as one of those channels. If social media was a branch of areas that we need content, it turns out that branch is actually its own tree with its own branches that are getting bigger and bigger and more branches all the time.

Daniel Jester:
One of the things we talked about was just the nature of social and how, when you're working on a shoot for a campaign, it's all planned, it's all prescribed. But with social, you really have to actually react in real time to things that are going on around you. This still goes back to strategy and specifically asset management and metadata strategy that helps your social teams react quickly and in real time to things that are happening. So give me your thoughts in general on that a little bit. You have a couple of anecdotes about needing to quickly react to some things that were happening in real time that I would love for you to share.

Clair Carter-Ginn:
I've worked in fashion quite a lot, and certainly that's a space where, although there's plenty of paid endorsements in fashion ... I'm sure that's a shock to no one ... But there are plenty of opportunities where things come up that you didn't expect. So this might take us back quite a few years, but Sharon Stone wore a black Gap T-shirt to the Oscars and probably half the audience is going, "Who is Sharon Stone," which is just embarrassing. Go watch Basic Instinct, everybody. Anyway-

Daniel Jester:
Come on. Everybody knows Sharon Stone.

Clair Carter-Ginn:
Point being, we didn't have any images of this because it wasn't a T-shirt that was still being made. It was from her own closet. She styled it with her stylist, which is fantastic that she would choose a Gap item. But then we had to figure out how the heck? People are going to want to see this, and we're going to want to sell this.

Clair Carter-Ginn:
So it was a scramble to find any imagery that really would work. The photo studio had to figure out, "All right, what do we have that's similar?" Merchandising came in and said, "Here's what we have that's currently being sold online that could be similar that we can put in place of this exact T-shirt," because heaven knows with the shots. It was a black T-shirt. They couldn't necessarily see details. They wanted something like it so they could say they got the Sharon Stone shirt. We went into the studio with multiple items. We pushed things that we weren't expecting to have in the DC. Our team pivoted from everything they were supposed to shoot that day or that week, and we started shooting black T-shirts like nobody's business. We got things through retouching. So it was this quick pivot from what was expected to what we had to do to get this out.

Clair Carter-Ginn:
It was amazing because it was like the whole team was on it. It was from beginning to end. It didn't matter. Yes, it was driven by the social team, but we also, as I said, we had merchandising, we had marketing, we had leadership involved, we had the studio involved, we had obviously the E-comm team involved. Then of course the DC had to get involved. How many of these do we have? Can we get these out at the door? Where are they coming in from? There's your New York moment in the back with the honking. Had to happen.

Daniel Jester:
Yeah, glad we got it.

Clair Carter-Ginn:
But basically it was this incredible moment of everybody working together to create what ended up being not that very many images. I think there was a lot of sell through, which was incredible because we were able to find product to sell. But just to see this happen, I think this goes to something I've talked about with you before and I might have mentioned it last time on the podcast, which is saving 20% of your time and resources for these ad hoc projects, for these social projects. Now, again, that's a little bit of a dream because who's got an extra 20%? But there are these things that, whether ... Let's just say there's an image the CEO falls in love with from a campaign and suddenly it's going to be socialized or you shot a model and now turns out she's in the new Will Smith movie. So you've got to pivot and figure out how to give as many images of her up.

Daniel Jester:
Yeah, got to get those out there. Or one of the world's biggest stars wears a piece unbeknownst to you and you want to capitalize on it.

Clair Carter-Ginn:
Yes.

Daniel Jester:
It's-

Clair Carter-Ginn:
Absolutely. Absolutely.

Daniel Jester:
All hands on deck.

Clair Carter-Ginn:
Of course that's going to fall on our teams. It's going to fall on studio, it's going to fall on post, it's going to fall on the content creation team. So really being able to have, going back to contingency planning, having sort of a contingency plan for when these last-minute projects come up. It's a little bit like the red light goes on in the studio and it's like, "Quick, everybody, go to your stations."

Daniel Jester:
Alert.

Clair Carter-Ginn:
Exactly. I'm having a Star Trek moment in my head. But this idea that we've all got to react, and that's happening more often than it used to. Something interesting that I did see at one studio, and again, this is one of those dreams, the dreams we all dream of, but is having a set that's kind of dedicated to those crazy last-minute projects so that it is the set that can be changed up really quickly to shoot on figure, to shoot lay down. The people who work on that particular team can do just about anything. They are the ones who are constantly being reactionary but not unstrategic because there is a plan in place for how to handle these requests. But even though they might be new every time, we know who's going to be on it, we know who to call in, we know what we need to do in this situation. So it's a strategic creativity that isn't as planned.

Daniel Jester:
Just a practical note for our listeners and studio team leaders that listen to the show, what Clair has just described, square foot footage in the studio might be an issue. But the other thing you really have to consider is if you're really operating your studio well, you have a spare computer, you have a spare camera, you have a spare power pack and lights, you have the equipment already that you need to build this ad hoc flex set, as I called them when I was at Amazon. I had a flex set, and it was staffed with equipment that was my backup equipment. So the rule was if a piece of equipment on a production set went down, we'd pull it from there. But we had a space to shoot things that were unexpected, oversized, a place for our creatives to fool around a little bit, if they wanted to do that.

Daniel Jester:
But talking about all of this though, the Sharon Stone Gap T-shirt at the Oscars was 1996 and today we have to be so, so, so much more quick to turn around. One of the things I think is really important part of this ... She looked amazing by the way. I Googled pictures of it.

Clair Carter-Ginn:
Oh yeah.

Daniel Jester:
It was the right move for her at the time for sure. But today we have to react so, so quickly. On top of being able to generate new content quickly in an ad hoc way, this also speaks to the need for great asset management and great data management. Being able to go to your DAM and say, "Do I have images of this?"

Clair Carter-Ginn:
Yes, absolutely.

Daniel Jester:
Of this person? Of this product? You made a great point about shooting a model who ends up getting cast in some A-list celebrity big time summer blockbuster. Yeah, we want to be able to turn that around, throw that on Instagram and say congratulations to this model for booking this role. Here she is in our amazing sundress, which happens to be on clearance.

Clair Carter-Ginn:
Exactly, exactly.

Daniel Jester:
So all of these things, all of this speaks back to strategy, which is not to be conflated with being overly prescriptive. Sometimes that strategy is allowing that 20% of saying, "We don't what we're going to need these resources for, but we want to be able to be adaptable."

Clair Carter-Ginn:
Yes, absolutely. If you can't do it internally, talk to your vendor partners, talk to the people that are already your trusted advisors. I think that, that's one of the great things about people like you at Creative Force is that you are a trusted advisor to a lot of your clients. So even though you don't run the studio, you might be able to make recommendations. It's one of the things I pride myself on is even if someone doesn't need my services, if they call me, I'm going to make the best recommendation I can because at the end of the day, we all want to do great work and we want to do great work with great people. So helping people find these resources, if they can't do it internally, then you know what? It's all for the betterment of the content and the betterment of doing great work, which is what we want to do at the end of the day.

Daniel Jester:
Yeah. I posted on LinkedIn the other day ... It makes my life better. I had this moment of realization after I think it was after my last meeting with you where I just looked around and I was like, "Everybody's work is stunning right now."

Clair Carter-Ginn:
Yes.

Daniel Jester:
No matter what website you go to, all of the places that you go, outlets that historically have struggled a little bit with creative vision or direction is producing such incredible work. A very overlooked part of Bon Appetit who provides I think a lot of value to people who are interested in cooking and food, is that their photography is exceptional.

Clair Carter-Ginn:
Oh yes. Yes.

Daniel Jester:
Always, always exceptional. Let's take the last few minutes of the episode, Clair, to talk about this upcoming event in October. So as I said to the listeners before, I'm not 100% sure when this episode will go live, but it will be before the upcoming Creative Operations Event. Clair, I'm going to let you tell our audience a little bit more about that.

Clair Carter-Ginn:
Yeah, absolutely. I'd love to. Thank you very much, Daniel. Henry Stewart, who puts on some fantastic events around DAM and creative operations, is expanding the Festival of Creative Operations this October. It's on October 5th. It will also include for the first time the much anticipated and greatly exciting Photo Studio Operations Forum and Design Operations Symposium. So talk about finding a thesaurus for various words meaning conference. All virtual, and I am very excited to announce I'm actually chairing the Photo Studio Operations Forum, which is-

Daniel Jester:
Amazing.

Clair Carter-Ginn:
Really, really exciting. We're going to have a great lineup. As of this moment when we're recording the agenda has not been announced. So I can't give anything away, but by the time that this goes live, I'm sure that there will be a link in the podcast notes to not only sign up, but see the agenda, et cetera. I'm also very excited to say that you guys are one of our sponsors and will be greatly involved for the Studio Ops Event.

Daniel Jester:
Right. Yeah. The podcast is produced by Creative Force, and it's intended to be a little bit separate. But Creative Force, we want to support the industry, whether you're a customer or client of Creative Force or not, we feel strongly about the industry and the camaraderie, and we see the value in these events. For the listeners, a lot of guests, a lot of past guests on this podcast will probably end up as speakers, whether it's in this event or other Henry Stewart events. I can't remember off the top of my head, but Curran Calhoun, we did a wonderful tech-centered episode with Curran Calhoun, who's going to be a speaker for the Henry Stewart Event. Is it the same one that you're talking about, the same event, or is he on another one?

Clair Carter-Ginn:
Yep. [Colleen 00:35:45] [Devani 00:35:45] will be on. We've got a lot of great people that I'm very excited about. Because it's also being co-located, for as much as a virtual event could be co-located with the Festival of Creative Ops, a lot of the folks that do both creative operations and studio ops may be speaking on both events, on the panel on one and doing a presentation on the other, or just look for them on both. If you sign up, I believe you can attend all three events. The Design Symposium also has some great, fantastic speakers from people like J&J. I've seen the initial lineup for all three events, and it's going to be an amazing one. So definitely block your calendar out for October 5th. I believe we're starting at Noon Eastern. So hopefully we can tap into everybody's schedule for a few hours in Europe, as well as hit the West Coast, but do take a look at the podcast show notes, and I'm pretty sure there will be a link and whatnot there, but it's going to be a great event. I'm very excited about that one.

Daniel Jester:
Thank you, Clair, so much for sharing that and for coming back on the podcast.

Clair Carter-Ginn:
Thank you.

Daniel Jester:
It's really always a pleasure to get a chance to chat with you and not too many interruptions from our second guest, the city of New York in the background, which I love.

Clair Carter-Ginn:
No longer [inaudible 00:36:56].

Daniel Jester:
On my side of it, it's trash day where I live. So the only sounds that I'm getting are the trash trucks coming through the alley.

Clair Carter-Ginn:
Oh, don't worry. They come by my house at 2:00 AM, so everyone is spared except for me.

Daniel Jester:
I was in San Francisco recently staying at a hotel and was like, "Oh, so the recycle guys come at 3:00 AM, and they just individually throw glass bottles on the ground as hard as they can for an hour." You got to do what you got to do, I guess.

Clair Carter-Ginn:
Absolutely. The radio is turned up full blast. So you're like, "Wow, I haven't heard that Lynyrd Skynyrd song for a long time."

Daniel Jester:
The Fugees again coming up again on the podcast for the second time. Clair, thank you so much for coming on the show and can't-

Clair Carter-Ginn:
Thank you.

Daniel Jester:
Wait to have you back for round three. It's always a pleasure to get a chance to talk to you.

Clair Carter-Ginn:
Thank you, Daniel. I appreciate it.

Daniel Jester:
That's it for this episode of the E-commerce Content Creation Podcast. Again, I encourage you all to check out Photo Ops Forum 2021 on October 5th. You can see the agenda, the speaker lineup, and register for the event by visiting tinyurl.com/photoops2021. Photo ops is all one word, all lowercase. 2021, tinyurl.com/photoops2021. Many thanks to our guest for this episode, and thank you for listening. The show is produced by Creative Force, edited by Calvin Lanz. Special thanks to Sean O'Meara and Clair Carter-Ginn. I am your host, Daniel Jester. Until next time my friends.

About the host

Chief evangelist at Creative Force

Daniel Jester is an experienced creative production professional who has managed production teams, built and launched new studios, and produced large-scale projects. He's currently the Chief Evangelist at Creative Force but has a breadth of experience in a variety of studio environments - working in-house at brands like Amazon, Nordstrom, and Farfetch as well as commercial studios like CONVYR. Creative-minded, while able to effectively plan for and manage a complex project, he bridges the gap between spreadsheets and creative talent.