Take a closer look at our Spotlight Awards for Photographic Excellence judges – today we meet with the creative director for Spain at Havas Worldwide – Paula Sabater, who will be the judge for Travel, Documentary and Landscape Photography. Read to find out how she picks a photographer she wants to work with, what about the image grabs her attention and how the awards are beneficial to creatives on both sides!
Production Paradise: What’s your background and what sort of clients do you work with at Havas Worldwide?
Paula: I started as a copywriter many years ago in Argentina and after making my way to Spain via Mexico, I am now a Creative Director at Havas. I have had many clients from the leisure and travel industries, such as hotel chains, etc. My background is more focused on services and mass products, but I also have had many clients from the leisure sector. Big travel clients that I have worked with in the past are Vueling Airlines and Club Med among others. Personally, I have an infinite love for traveling and photography, and I do take photos when I travel. I am a regular collaborator of Atrapalo.com in their travel & leisure blog, called Houdini, sharing my experiences. I just love anything related to traveling.
Production Paradise: When you are looking for a photographer, creative, talent to hire for a project, how do you find them?
Paula: When we are looking for a commissioned image, not a stock photo, I look for inspiration in imagery – in magazines and I also follow many blogs. If an image stands out for me, I always check who is behind that campaign, or image, and then we visit the website of that specific photographer, and browse through his/her images. It all starts with an image that catches my eye, and I think “I want something like this”. Of course, each project has its own initial pitch. For example, we need something with a realistic, documentary style or an image with specific depth of light, etc. However, beyond those technical aspects, we look for references and from there we look for the source: magazines, campaigns, blogs… It is teamwork with the art director – who has a large database of photographers, ordered by categories (travel, product, action…), and we keep on adding new names of photographers we discover, from any kind of source. For example, Production Paradise has an interesting catalogue of images from talent.
PP: Based on your experience, working in advertising, when you are looking for talent in travel photography what makes you think “This is someone I would like to work with in the future”?
Paula: First, I avoid typical images; second, I need an image to transmit something; I need to feel something – sometimes it’s the light… I think it’s a matter of chemistry, sometimes you find an image and you think: “I want to be there, I want to know this place”. An exceptional travel image will always make me wonder where was it taken, and make me want to be there. Those images can transmit this passion, the will to be part of the story that is being told. I look for something that is not predictable, not the usual stuff; I’m looking for photos taken with a fresh eye, that go beyond what we already know. I’d like someone with a new perspective on the places we already know – avoiding clichés. I also love portraits of real people living in travel destinations. If you travel to Paris, I don’t want to see the Eiffel tower, or the baguette – show me an image that reveals something about the local culture, an image that comes from a deeper understanding of a place. We already know the icons of these famous destinations, so I want to see something else, learn something new.
There is also something that’s essential for me: I don’t like images where you can see that the photographer is very present, that you can see the image has a “staged” element to them. I like images that look casual, that have a strong authenticity. Even if in the end the image will end up being for an ad and will require some sort of staging, I look for that authentic feel. I want the photographer to show me the place as it is.
My taste tends to the naturalistic style; but that can be very subjective, and of course it depends on what we want to express with each project. The key for me though is authenticity. That’s the extra value of photography, and it’s even more important now that we have Instagram and so many blogs and it’s especially true for us creatives, as we are constantly bombarded with images. I believe there is still room for the authentic, the unique.
Production Paradise: In what ways you think these awards will benefit and facilitate careers for photographers, what do you think photographers get from being in awards like this?
Paula: Photographers get bigger exposure, they get people to know their work, the same way Production Paradise works – they are aiming specifically at people that are potential clients, creatives, art directors – people that are constantly looking for new talent. Thanks to the Spotlight Awards we can have a sort of communication, between photographers and the creatives that hire them – it’s a meeting point for us, and I find that very interesting. For me, it will be a way to discover new photographers that I may not be able to find anywhere else.
Production Paradise: It’s a win-win situation for both sides, as you both need to meet each other!
Paula: That’s exactly right! We may call it “awards” but I see it as a meeting point. I agree it’s great for both the jury and the photographers that apply, we need each other. I am always looking for new talent – someone that has a different point of view. Creating long and steady relationships with photographers you work over and over with is great, but it’s also essential to discover new talent. I personally love to see new perspectives. I really love the fact that these awards are looking from the perspective of the buyers, the creatives in agencies. This is a meeting between people on both sides of this industry, people that need each other and love each other!
We want to thank Paula for the interview. Her and other judges are looking forward to see your Travel, Documentary and Landscape photography!