Interview with Poppy Creative: how the agency was born, Focus on Women Project, and what is next for 2019


Meet Poppy Creative, one of the top Californian agencies for photographers, prop stylists, soft good stylists and producers. We had the chance to learn more about the agency beginnings, their willingness to support promising young talents and their future projects for this new year.

Cost Plus – Photographer: Shaun Sullivan

Production Paradise: To start off, could you tell us some more about Poppy Creative and how the agency came to life?

Poppy Creative: Poppy Creative was inspired by a downturn in the economy in 2005 and a good friend and photographer approached me because he was losing clients and he asked me to become his agent. I then partnered with another friend out of work who was a producer and we decided to sign our favorite talent and farm out our talents together (art direction/production/photography and styling). Next thing we knew we had created an agency that offered soup to nuts what a client needed to create imagery for their brand.

DAWKI – Photographer: Bax + Towner

Production Paradise: You have a remarkable list of clients with names like Pottery Barn, Shutterfly, E-Bay and many more. What would you consider to be the most important quality to attract and retain such big brands?

Poppy Creative: I think what makes us unique is our ability to create visual stories through our talent who are the best in what they do while also being warm, approachable and fun to work with. We also have 20 years’ experience in the Bay Area and have long standing relationships within the photo community so people know they can come to me and I will know someone whether or not they are on our roster, I will find them the right person for the job or refer them to the right place.

Walmart – Photographer: Eric Zepeda

Production Paradise: Could you tell us more about your roster of photographers and stylists? Anything that they all have in common?

Poppy Creative: I carefully select our talent – I need to feel their passion for what they do in order to be able to sell it. We all possess that California quality both in attitude and visually – warm, approachable, and laid back. People want to work with us because of it, and they know exactly what to expect – no-attitudes, just straight up good shooters who collaborate with their clients while making the process a fun atmosphere whether it’s stressful or not.

I am always meeting with new talent and seeing where we can collaborate. My favorite part of my job is promoting and fostering new talent and I try to do it whenever I can.

Photographer: Alfred Yan

Production Paradise: What is the most interesting or memorable campaign that you have worked on?

Poppy Creative: Definitely our shoot for Dead as We Know It – an agency from Brooklyn who hired Bax + Towner to shoot a campaign for a new whiskey/gin maker based in Sonoma. They were trying to recreate Scotland/Ireland here in Northern California – so we chose a location, Goat Rock Beach, it typically has that early morning fog over rolling green hills. Bax + Towner scouted the area, mapped out an amazing timeline by the minute practically. And in order to get that beautiful fog, etc. meant call times starting at 3:30am – 4:00am. I was a producer on the job, and will say it was an amazingly fun adventure. Ended up having to create our own fog with a machine and a PA running back and forth to get the look – but they pulled it off and we all had fun doing it.

DAWKI – Photographer: Bax + Towner

Production Paradise:Can you tell us a bit more about the Poppy Pod and the production services that your company can also offer?

Poppy Creative: Our Poppy Pod was created to help small brands who may not have a lot of experience with photo shoots, and/or don’t have all the resources in-house, like an AD or a Producer. We put together a team made up of AD/Producer/Photographer and Stylists along with casting, catering, location scouting, etc. and give them the chance to focus on the bigger picture and let us worry about the details and producing them the visual story from start to finish for them. We can offer everything as a package or the client can pick and choose based on their needs. It came about because of my background both as an AD and a Producer for a number of retail companies in the Bay Area and seeing the need in 2008 for offering more than just the photography side to internet start-ups and local brands who don’t have their own creative in-house team.

Photographer: Joy Coakley

Production Paradise: You recently started a new adventure called Focus on Women which is aimed at elevating and promoting women in the photography industry. Can you tell us more about this?

Poppy Creative: This project came about because I was feeling the need to come up with a way to give back to my community as well as a need to connect to others both in the same job as my own but also in the general world of photography and production.  My roster has always had “lead” talent along with the second tier of talent who are just breaking out on their own and although just as talented as the leads they just don’t have as many years yet under their belt. I have always wanted to offer a monthly get together of sorts with my peers where we could talk about the industry, our clients, etc. When I started talking to my peers I realised there was a niche here – being a woman-run business it was time to focus on women and make this what I would give back. So I reached out to my colleague and fellow agency, Mary Dail from Big Leo Productions and Juliette Wolf Robin – the Executive Director of the APA to host a party in NYC around the October 2018 Photo Plus Expo and that has now led to this new group, Focus on Women, that is still evolving but is what we hope will be a membership-based organization where people can go to find good, talented women photographers/ directors/ stylists/ digital techs/ Pas and more.

Production Paradise: What’s next for Poppy Creative in 2019?

Poppy Creative: We have a lot on our plate for 2019 – growing our roster both with Lead Stylists and Photographers as well as some junior level talent that we can foster and help to grow. Hosting some more events for Focus on Women to keep the momentum going and get our ladies a seat at the table. We hope to be a part of the Palm Springs Photo Festival in May as well as throwing a gallery event featuring local female photographers in the Bay Area in July.  

If you want to learn more about Poopy Creative and discover their work and talents, go on their portfolio page on Production Paradise or Poppy Creative Website.

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