Monday, March 19, 2012

What Makes You Click? Q & A with Brad Tuckman of KSC Kreate

Brad Tuckman, President of KSC Kreate

By Al Diaz
Driving through Hollywood, Florida on a photo assignment for the Miami Herald I approached KSC Kreate. I thought I would be shooting a portrait of a couple who own a local catalog photo studio who just happened to win an award for a short film. I visualized they would be in a small nondescript building with an SUV parked outside.

Instead, I found a massive warehouse the size of Walmart, several semi-trucks docked at its large bay doors. I stepped out to confirm I was in the right place and entered the massive structure.

Looking to my left then to my right, stacked 20 feet high, 
floor to ceiling, was wall- to-wall merchandise. 
One of each household item you could possibly think of.

Not what I expected.

Venturing further I find a buzz of activity, photographers, stylists, prop masters, fashion models, office personnel and IT folks. Who says photography is in decline!

KSC Kreate is a full service digital commerce agency. Evolving from a digital photography studio, in less than a decade it has morphed into a full team of kreative professionals, account managers and technological wizkids. The company handles a wide array of visual content for the nation’s biggest companies and is even making full-length movies.

Q Brad what kick started your career?
I originally got started interning in Rochester during college as well as over the summers in NYC where I briefly managed one of the earliest digital studios… Grant Peterson was the photographer, a big time still life guy back then. Grant still shoots I believe. While in NYC I met someone from Power Images down in Florida where I later moved to work for right after college. Literally started 3 days after I graduated. So much for a cross country road trip. Right!?! The irony of all this is I can link so much of my success to that job in NYC. I met so many people who became friends and later became clients.

Q What took you to the next level?
My earliest large client was The Sports Authority. This gave me the ability to grow the company. I saw so many single photographers becoming obsolete by just doing what they always did… not just staying with the times is needed today but thinking beyond today and antiquating the needs for the future… I've navigated this well thus far but always wait for the other shoe to fall, which just makes me work harder.

Q Your warehouse is hugh! How many people work for you?
KSC has roughly 80 full-time plus freelancers making us roughly 100 people per day in our two buildings. We are also expanding into a 3rd location this spring and a possible fourth by end of 2012. We anticipate 100 full-time by years end with an additional 20-30 freelance.

Q You produce lots of imagery. How many photographers work full-time?
Our photographer count is 8-12 shooting daily. Of which 10 are staff. Kind of like a good hospital we have a great teaching environment. Senior Photographers working with juniors bringing them up quickly. Having the ability to shoot everyday give you fast paced experience. We do hire from the outside as well as I believe it's best to work from within while also finding the "special" ones on the outside which is not always having the best portfolio but the right attitude to work in our company. A portfolio can be deceiving at times. Being able to produce under pressure consistently takes time to learn and having the right attitude is everything.

Q What makes your business successful?
In all I gotta say we have a great place to work in. I've seen places similar to us fail before. Sometimes you can get too big and forget where you came from. That is why you will always hear me refer to the company as a family. Once we lose that we are done. A client needs to know they are all equally as important as the next. I strongly believe it's about the relationship. Like any good marriage great communication is required, an understanding of the others needs and the willingness to make it work during the best and worst of times.

Q Do you enjoy it?
I love what I do. You have to. This business is not a job but a lifestyle. I had an agent for years, traveled the world, shot for international companies but eventually realized I had a responsibility to my studio here in Florida and saw a brighter future focusing on what makes me and my business different.

Q Do you still shoot?
I still shoot 20-30 days a year for certain clients and special projects. It keeps me fresh and it's almost like a day off from the business side of things. I do enjoy working with my photographers, giving them input and pushing them to be as good as they can be. I'm proud to see the work that comes out of our studio and that alone is enough for me creative wise.

Q Are you a gear head?
Camera wise. Ways back I was also a dealer for Sinar Bron, Profoto, Mamiya, Leaf, all those companies. I was consulting for many clients who wanted in-house solutions so I figured I'd offer them the equipment as well. For me gear has always been gear. I get excited about something new but it soon becomes a tool to get the craft done. Selecting the right tool in the bag to me today digitally is like the old days whether I needed small, medium, or large format… Based on the job I used what gave me the most success. Today my style of shooting is very loose which is why I use Canon for my lifestyle work. My studio has over 20 Canon bodies and however many lenses. We do utilize Phase One backs when needed but for the majority of our work we find the Canon works best. I wish I could give every photographer one of each here but financially speaking I rather give each person here two complete sets… with the Phase Ones when needed. There's still nothing like a picture off one of those backs.

By Jenny Staletovich of The Miami Herald
Not satisfied with just producing for clients, Tuckman and his wife, Shona, who is the CEO of KSC Kreate, ventured into the movie business.
Shona Tuckman, who had been writing and producing commercials as well as writing screenplays (a short film won the Breakthrough Film Award at the New York Independent Film Festival), had an idea for a movie. She began writing it four years ago and, just after returning from China where they had adopted their daughter, started work. With a new baby, it took her six years to complete.
Starting in June, she and her team, including actors Liane Balaban, Barry Bostwick, Tyler Bunch, Josh Cooke, Kiki Harris, Arielle Hoffman and Lainie Kazan spent five weeks shooting in Broward. In addition to the KSC crew, 70 additional workers were brought in each day. Post-production started in July and is expected to run through February.
“Sometimes you just have to step up and make something yourself, but it has to be the right one,” Shona Tuckman said. “Now we’re talking about what’s next.”
They are trying to find foreign distribution for the movie ( and entering it in festivals. Brad Tuckman said they hope to produce a movie a year.
Read more about KSC Kreate by BY Jenny Staletovich of The Miami Herald.
Brad Tuckman with Shona Tuckman at KSC Kreate studios.