I consult with photographers on a daily basis, helping them create estimates for projects big and small. Once we put the finishing touches on an estimate and are ready to submit it to a client, we often deliver it as a two-page PDF — the estimate on one page, and the Terms & Conditions on the other — attached to an email containing a delivery memo. In many cases, that’s all you’ll need to secure the assignment. But there are occasions where you’ll want to go the extra mile by including more detailed information in the form of a treatment.
I’ll often recommend this approach to a photographer when the project requires a big financial commitment from a client. It can also be a great way to convey a greater level of professionalism or to supply additional information that may be difficult to elaborate on within the estimate. Treatments are sometimes lengthy, but they can also be a simple, sophisticated way of conveying your interest and capabilities.
Regardless of how simple or detailed you want to make your treatment, I’d recommend that you include a few basic elements at minimum:
A treatment can not only serve to flesh out your methodology, it can help the client get to know you better. Earlier this month, Lindsay Thompson completed a colorful treatment for Chicago-based food photographer Jason Little that discussed how his approach to lighting would ensure quality imagery for the client’s ask. Toward the end of the treatment, Jason included a bright, sunny photo of him smiling next to some easy-to-digest fun facts. The combination of the image and the fun facts makes the reader feel like they know Jason before they ever meet him in person:
Of course, a contemporary treatment also needs to include an approach to mitigating the spread COVID-19, namely the steps everyone needs to take before and during a potential shoot. I recently worked with Philadelphia-based Colin M. Lenton, whose treatment had an “Approach” section which featured four precautions that ensure safety is paramount. Here’s a look at the entire treatment:
Though Colin’s treatment is fairly detailed, some clients require you to share even more information. In those cases, you may want to expand your template to include some (or all) of the following:
LA-based photographer Caesar Lima contacted our team to help him put together a treatment that included many of these additional elements. In that case, the client actually laid out their required format for his proposal. They wanted to understand how Caesar would accomplish the project, and also required a lengthy list of information in order to be considered for the project. With the help of our designer, copywriter, and photo editor, we helped him put together the following treatment:
You’ll notice that Caesar’s treatment is in a vertical orientation, whereas other treatments can be horizontal. There is, of course, no right or wrong way to go about it, but horizontal formats tend to be received well since they’re more appropriate for an on-screen display.
Apple Keynote, Microsoft PowerPoint, and Google Slides are all great for creating treatments. But no matter what application you use, be sure to save it as a PDF so anyone can open it.
Finally, Teri Campbell uses Adobe Express to create all of his treatments.
I like that I can link it with Dropbox – where I keep a portfolio of low-res images, not only for use with Adobe Express but any social media, or online promotional needs.
Whichever format you decide to go with, you should have a template on hand that’s easy to customizable; that way, you can quickly put together a treatment for fast-moving projects.
Prime Production: What is a Treatment and How do I Make One?