Huck is a photography and video studio based in Boise, Idaho. Founder, Tony Andrew, talks to us about learning on the job, living in the woods and why Hightail is a game changer for him and his clients.
I got more training in the studio than college
I was at Boise State when I was hired by a photography studio called Tri-Digital Group. They had me doing a little bit of everything, from food photography for grocery chain, Albertsons, to business portraiture and product shots. I was learning so much there, I just never went back to school. I stayed with Tri-Digital for more than two years, working under a great mentor, Greg Simms – one of the founders – and even got to be Director of Photography on video shoots. It was an awesome well-rounded education.
I spent a year working in the Montana woods
As I began doing more and more personal photography, I decided to take the jump and set up my own studio. In order to save money, I went back to Montana, where I’m from, for the summer to work for my dad’s logging business. I ended up staying for a year before returning to Boise and establishing my studio. That time in the woods had a big influence on how my own business turned out.
The company is named after Huckleberry Finn
We didn’t have video games when I was growing up. It was always “get your butt outside and play”. I guess this heritage of growing up in the woods stuck with me forever. The name Huck reflects my identity of being an adventurous young man from Montana. So far people have responded well to it.
I travel around the state for the Idaho Tourism department
I have a contract with Visit Idaho to shoot assets, like culinary photographs to support restaurants, events, backpacking and a lot of adventure stuff – skiing, kayaking and all that good stuff. I just got back from a four-day shoot in Eastern Idaho, where we visited places like Driggs, Island Park and West Yellowstone. Idaho is a pretty epic state so there’s a lot of ground to cover.
My preference would be to stay in a tent every time
During the summer we’ve had a couple of shoots where we’ve backpacked into the Sawtooth Mountain Range and camped up there. But for the winter shoots, we’ll spend the day in the field exploring those places then stay at hotels or lodgings – it’s a little cold at this time of year. I like the summer where we’re more likely to be staying overnight in the woods.
This kind of client means a lot of eyes on your work
When you shoot for a client like Visit Idaho, a lot of different people need to have their say on things. Plus, I work closely with an agency called Drake Cooper who handle all their advertising and marketing campaigns. It’s a new process for everybody involved and though it’s been difficult at times, we’re developing a workflow that works. We use Asana as the checklist for the production process, covering everything from itineraries to the shoot itself. Once the shots are in, I upload them to Hightail and share the link in Asana, so we can decide which images we’ll use.
It takes a thousand shots to get the final 12 photos
I’ll come back from a shoot and narrow things down to around 500 for the agency to view. They decide what they like and we’ll send around 250 to the client for their feedback. We were using zip files and referencing the filename and numbers in email when reviewing. It was hard so I started looking for a gallery site that would make this process better. But most of them are targeted at wedding or portrait photographers and have limited functionality, especially around communication.
Hightail has been a game changer for us
The approval feature saves us a lot of time on making the final selections. Then the agency and client can leave comments on a photo like “this area is a little too dark”, which provides great direction for editing the final images exactly how they need them for the campaign. We are working way more efficiently than before. Hightail means I don’t have to send 40 emails about one set of images. Having everything in once place where we view the photos and have that conversation is saving me four hours every shoot.
Hiring a retoucher is like getting married
At the moment I do all my own retouching but I’ve been looking for a retoucher for about a year. It would save me a lot of time and help me focus on growing the business rather than having to sit down and spend a couple of days editing hundreds of photos. But it’s a very difficult decision for a photographer. You need someone you can trust, someone with a similar style to you and with who you can have a good working relationship. When I do get one, I can see Hightail playing a key role in our process.
Mood boards provide piece of mind for the client
When a client gives you creative control of a project they are putting a lot of trust in your judgement. I like to create mood boards that we can discuss early on so they get an idea of my vision for the finished piece and we can build on it together. Before, I’d put it together on Pinterest or build a PDF, but now I can use Hightail as a mood board and keep all the conversations in one place.