Don't Panic

A guide for bidding in a new era

On April 6th, 2017, BlinkBid founder Lou Lesko and veteran art-producer Suzee Barrabee, formerly of Goodby Silverstein, presented a hardcore, no-holds-barred practical seminar on how to bid jobs in the current industry climate. They talked about the significant changes in usage licensing, as library shoots begin to dominate the commercial photography landscape, and went in depth discussing treatments, a new expectation of photographers competing for jobs.

The talk was centered around a mock shoot for wearable technology. To emulate real-world conditions, Ms. Barrabee sent Mr. Lesko a brief, and he wrote a treatment in response. Mr. Lesko then had his producer do an initial bid for submission. After feedback from Ms. Barrabee, two subsequent revisions of the bid were created. Ultimately the final bid was within five thousand dollars of the actual, but undisclosed, budget that Miss Barrabee had allotted for the job.

This page details the brief, the treatment, and all three versions of the bid, which was of course made using BlinkBid software.

The Photo Brief


Wearable Technology (i.e. Fitbit or Apple Watch)


To shoot a library of images to be used in (but not limited to) ads, social media, out-of-home, posters, brochures, etc.


We would like to set up a 3 day shoot where we highlight outdoor activities that can be tracked on our wearable device. Each scenario should feel real and authentic. We will set up the various activities and then capture the natural dynamic between friends or family members. Our locations shouldn’t be too specific to any city or region or climate. We would like to have a diversity of ethnicities and ages in our casting (see casting notes below).



A family hiking through the wilderness. We follow them as they hike, carry a little one on their shoulders, take a snack/water break and come to a destination (river, bridge, waterfall or beautiful vista). Also shots of them checking their device and close up shots of the device.

Gender: Male and Female

Age: couple that is 30’s and two children

Ethnicity: Can be mixed ethnicities or same sex couple.

Ballroom Dance Class

A ballroom dance class. About 5 couples doing various dances. Can also be doing line dances or other “non-ballroom” dances. Also shots of them checking their device and close-up shots of the device.

Gender: Male and Female (can be same sex couples or two friends taking dance class together)

Age: 30’s to 70’s

Ethnicity: Mixed

Outdoor Boot Camp

A group getting ready to exercise outdoors and then following them through an outdoor bootcamp routine. Also shots of them checking their device and close up shots of the device.

Gender: Male and Female (approximately 12 students and one leader)

Age: 20s to 40s

Ethnicity: Mixed

Photo Usage

Option 1: Unlimited use, unlimited media, worldwide, in perpetuity (with the exception of broadcast). Client gets usage rights to all images shot. Photographer keeps the copyright.

Option 2: Two years, unlimited use, unlimited media, worldwide, in perpetuity. Client gets usage rights to 15 images. Please include a cost for buying rights to an additional image beyond the original 15 purchased.

Talent Usage

Real People casting.

Usage will be unlimited use, unlimited media, worldwide, in perpetuity (with the exception of broadcast).

Please let me know what you think! If you have any questions, let me know.


The Treatment

The journey is the destination, but what did we derive from embarking upon the journey in the first place? This is what we want to visually depict with this library of photos through three scenarios; the hikers, the dancers, and the urban bootcamp warriors.

The wearable shall be depicted as a quiet coach watching and recording the steps of our actors. The wearable shall be present but not intrusive, a subtle assistant, not a distraction. A critical distinction as digital devices have lately been derided as the a contributor to society’s inattention and inactivity. The wearable’s ghostly glow will hover through each scenario like a digital firefly, as if part of the environment. To that end, we shall portray an arc that we all experience when setting out on activity of our choosing.

Pre-activity details will include gathering water and nutrition and putting on appropriate attire for the activity (clothes, shoes, etc.). These actions lend themselves to gradually tighter shots as we introduce the actors and the wearables in each of our scenarios.


A young mother as she fills up plastic bottles at a water station at the MARIN COUNTY WATERSHED-BON TEMPE DAM. The dad pays for parking. They have an SUV with the rear open, lunch bags, and open backpacks, two kids running around as Dad tries to the herd them together to begin their hike. The couple ties the shoes of the kids (featuring the wearable), and with a few more details to consider (zip up pack, close car door etc.), the journey begins.

At the trailhead, with a quick glance at wearables by both Mom and Dad, we shoot photos from behind them to depict the TREE COVERED trail in front of them. Which is followed by shots of Mom, Dad and the kids walking on the trail.

At a MEADOW, Dad bends down with a pair of small binoculars and helps the kids hold it up to their eyes while he points out an animal in the distance.

A tight shot of the girl wearing the binoculars around her neck.

At the bottom of a large hill in the DIRECT SUN, the family stops for a water break. The kids are acting out, they’re hot. Dad peeks at his wearable before helping the youngest sip some water. He takes some water for himself and puts his hand around his wife while the kids sit on a LOG not wanting to continue. Snacks are handed out and the kids begin to rally.

Mom and dad each carry a kid up the hill, their wearable in view as we compress the background with a long lens to add to the claustrophobia of the slog up the hill.

With the hill behind them one of the kids skins her knee. Mom is there cleaning the minor abrasion with water and a cartoon band aid.

At last at the SMALL WATERFALL, the kids are thrilled as Mom and Dad swim with them, showing the ruggedness of the wearable. They sit on the rocks and have lunch until they pack up to go back home.

Hero shot, the kids and the parents silhouettes by the light of the dusk, the wearables glow blue.

Ballroom Dance Class

A DANCE STUDIO with hardwood floors. Couples sit on the floor, to-go coffee cups next to them. They are in comfortable athletic wear, stretching and warming up. Again we focus on the shoes, the minute details which involve hands (the wearable).

A SAME SEX couple looks at each other in anticipation of starting. They check their wearable before they start to dance. The lighting is bright, daylight, morning. This is practice. Although the floor has five other couples, they are the extras for our principal couple.

The next scene is a break from the dancing, couples are sweaty, drinking water, Gatorade. Various people looking at their wearables. We follow our dancers to wardrobe, where they dress for their first number. Detail shots getting ready, make up etc. It’s a western line dance. A hero shot of everyone in a line, hand in front, wearable glowing.

Back in the dressing room, ankles and feet being wrapped, the tolls of dancing. Clothes change to formal ballroom. Glorious gowns, sophisticated tuxedos. Our principal couple interacts lovingly, fixing ties, removing lint etc. the wearable visible in their touches and actions.

Hero shot of an overhead angle of a ballroom dance which entails arms up wrists bent. The scene is dim, the dancers in shadow, the wearable close. ALT CLOSE the wearable leaves a streak of light from the motion.

Boot Camp

A dawn shot of a boot camp leader checking his wearable. He looks over a vast green lawn with buildings in the background. Entering from the left, his students with backpacks and gym bags. As they get ready, we see tight shots of everyone looking at their wearable. Different than the other scenarios, the wearable is the direct feature here. The boot camp students actively check their progress with each boot camp class they take.

An overhead shot of all the students on the ground doing push-ups as the instructor walks between them. They all pop up for a run. Across the lawn up some stairs through an outdoor corridor where the boot camp dodges a few “civilians” in professional attire carrying briefcases and coffees. A tight midriff shot during the run featuring the wearable.

Back to our original location where tires have been laid out and the students have to high step through them. One of the students takes a fall, another student helps her up. A tight shot of hand-to-hand, the pull back up to standing.

A tight shot on wrists as the students jump rope, pass a medicine ball down a line, and hold kettlebells for squats. ALT a large tractor tire where two more students have to help flip it across the lawn. Teamwork is what we’re conveying.

Hero shot end of day, all the students silhouetted against a building in the sun, back to our normally scheduled work life. The wearables glow.

Response to the treatment

The treatment above represents only one way of expressing the vision for executing the shoot. One one hand it could be taken as a bit long, on the other hand the length and detail shows a real passion for the project which can be a distinguishing factor. Keep in mind if you describe a shot, you might be expected to execute it.

If you’re not one who likes to write you can be equally as effective by making bullet points and including images to illustrate your ideas (ideally the images would be yours). What you are ultimately trying to convey is confidence and passion for the project.

The Bids

The first bid assumed travel for the the principal crew which was changed in the second revision to reflect that everyone would be hired as a local.

revision 1 - BlinkBid

Notes about the bid from art producer

Hi Lou

This looks good. Some questions.


Will this cover two rounds of casting?


Usually talent is a fee plus agency commission of 20%. So a more usual fee is $1000 + 20% = $1200 per talent. And the kids would be $750 + 20% = $900.

With kids in the mix, we will need a studio teacher.

All talent needs to be paid through a payroll company (such as Extreme Reach) which adds approximately 23% onto the bottom line but provides all payment and tax services plus worker’s comp.


Crew also needs to be paid through a payroll company so they are covered for worker’s comp


We will need 2 motorhomes at the Boot camp and hiking locations. One for wardrobe, makeup and talent. And one for the client, photographer and crew (mostly for bathrooms).

Wardrobe and Props are a bit low. Can you add a bit more in for both.

I think that is all I would say about this estimate. Crazy, that I always seem to make the numbers go up instead of down.

(I always add this comment.) And please note that the final bill will need to be for actual expenses submitted with backup receipts. All overages will need to be approved before they are incurred. There is no 10% contingency.



The final bid

his is the final bid which reflects the changes the art producer gave us.

Although the art producer did not give us a budget to work with, she had a budget in mind which she revealed at the talk in Los Angeles. Her number was $200,000.00; our budget was shy by $4,335.00.