Team Positions at Kaspi Creative

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Leadership Ability – Stock Photo by Kaspi Creative Inc.

We have a vision here at Kaspi Creative to build multiple production teams. Each production team has three key members: Producer/Director/Photographer, Producer/Director/Videographer, and Editor/Uploader.

Qualities we look for in every job applicant include leadership ability, emotional intelligence, intellectual intelligence, a unique perspective and the ability to learn. We are looking for someone who has enough self-awareness to identify the facts that hold him or her and our company back from even greater success. We want people who are naturally talented at solving problems creatively.

Leadership ability is critical for all of the positions because a production team’s primary objective is to plan and lead photo and video shoots. To do that effectively each person must be confident and influential. Each team must have great people skills, decision making skills, and intuition. If a team cannot build the trust of the models, who range in age from zero to 100+ years in age, how will they be effective at directing them? This is why leadership ability is first on our list of qualities we look for in every job applicant.

Emotional intelligence, according to Daniel Goleman, includes self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill. Emotional awareness is said to play a bigger role in successful leaders than intellectual intelligence. In the book On Emotional Intelligence which is a collection of Harvard Business Review articles, Daniel Goleman defines the five skills:

  • Self-awareness: Knowing one’s emotions, strengths, weaknesses, drives, values, and goals–and their impact on others.
  • Self-regulation: Controlling or redirecting disruptive emotions and impulses.
  • Motivation: Being driven to achieve for the sake of achievement.
  • Empathy: Considering other’s feelings especially when making decisions.
  • Social skill: Managing relationships to move people in desired directions.

Any person who has all five of these skills is someone we want to be working with in some capacity. One thing we have noticed after dozens of interviews is that many people know their strengths, or claim they know their strengths. But very few people actual know and are willing to share their weaknesses. Most people want to be clever and say they are a perfectionist as though that’s a bad thing. It usually takes two or three tries before an interviewee is able to come up with an actual weakness if they are even able to. Self-awareness is not a natural strength in most people we interview. When we meet someone who is truly self-aware it is exciting.

Being able to regulate emotions allows a person to grow through constructive criticism without becoming defensive or shutting down. There will be many opportunities to review each person’s work with the intention to find ways of doing things better. Building a culture of openness is important to us. It takes emotional strength and humility to be able to take someone else’s criticism and proactively respond constructively.

Without motivation and drive nothing will get accomplished. Everyone is motivated by something. “Being driven to achieve for the sake of achievement” defines the type of motivation we are looking for. When motivation is combined with conscientiousness the results are usually a very effective person.

Trust is a critical ingredient in leadership. Without trust its not really possible to influence someone. Empathy builds trust. Empathetic leaders win the hearts and minds of the people they influence. We strive to make ever single model we work with feel important. We want to earn their trust.

We work with people. We don’t have a product without our models. Whether a shoot has one model or fifty to effectively direct them, “move them in the desired direction,” it takes social skill. To wait for models to do the right thing is not effective. They must be directed. Every team member must be prepared and able to coach our talent.

Intellectual intelligence is very beneficial to us when it is accompanied by leadership ability and emotional intelligence. Intellectual intelligence includes skill like creative problem solving, pattern recognition, technical knowledge, and artistic ability. Even the best leader who doesn’t know anything about what we do or how we do it won’t be of much value to us until they learn it. Someone with the ability to learn our industry and recognize the demands of our clients then creatively solve the problems that prevent us from delivering high-demand content to our clients is who we are looking for.

In our interview process we assess all candidates for the qualities mentioned above. We do so starting with written and phone/video chat interviews then we move to in person interviews asking a range of behavioural and situational questions. If a job applicant gets through the in person interviews we finish up with a couple job assessments. During the job assessments we will look for confirmation that what you told us about yourself in the interview process is consistent.

Why do we go to such lengths when hiring? One of our main goals as an organization is to create a challenging and fulfilling workplace culture of high performers who are principle centred and driven by effective habits. We want to hire and retain only humble, hungry, and smart people who thrive when working on a team. We want to work together to discover and build on each person’s talents and creativity.

If this is the type of environment you can picture yourself in the best place to start is sending us a well thought out cover letter and resume.

Talent Search – Peterborough, Ontario

By | Business and Strategy, Productions and Shoots, Stock Photography, Stock Video | No Comments

There are many benefits to living in Peterborough, Ontario. It’s a city large enough to have lots going on but still not be overly crowded. It’s the gateway to the Kawartha’s which means there is a plethora of outdoor activities to keep the active person happy. It’s also close enough to Toronto to make a day trip there but still not part of the Greater Toronto Area. These are three of the many reasons we chose Peterborough as the centre of our operations.

It’s been 18 months since we’ve moved Kaspi Creative from Oshawa to Peterborough. In that 18 months we’ve experience about 50% growth in sales. We’ve hired three full-time employees and contracted more production and modelling talent than ever before. Our portfolio has grown from about 30,000 assets to 56,000 assets.

The first ingredient in our SMaC Recipe (from the book Great by Choice) is to create a challenging and fulfilling workplace culture of high achievers who are principle centred and driven by effective habits. Hire and retain only humble, hungry, and smart people capable of working independently and interdependently. Work together to discover and build on each person’s talents and creativity.

It is obviously very important to us to create a great work environment for great workers. That includes everyone from our full-time staff to our contracted models and actors. If the description above describes you and you are interested in the photo/video production industry please let us know who you are. Working with great people is why our business is growing. We are always looking for more people who can help us achieve our goals.

Below is a pretty awesome video created by one of our contractors just a few weeks ago. All the clips in the video below are licensable through us.

COLLABORATING TO SUCCESS: LEAVE YOUR EGO AT THE DOOR

By | Business and Strategy | 6 Comments

“If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.” – George Bernard Shaw

In 2010 I graduated with a bachelor of science in mass communication/media and a minor in photography. As a young, aspiring creative, I had grand ideas of how the next twenty years would look. Of two things I was certain: I am a competent individual, and it’s important I be my own boss. I immediately started my photography business, JL Photography, and did not realize the roller coaster I was in for. The next six years proved to be a wild ride, with lots of ups and downs, and turns I never expected. At many times I felt as though I was floundering. I still haven’t gotten off the roller coaster, and sometimes still feel as though I am barely keeping my head above water. Never did I expect things to unfold as they have. I have done a few things right and a whole lotta things wrong. The plans I had as a new graduate have changed, my goals have altered, and my idea of success, and how to achieve it, has been reshaped.

In my opinion, one of the greatest mistakes young ALL creatives make is letting ego prevent growth. When I started JL Photography I wanted to turn it into the greatest (deep breath) wedding, portrait, event, bar mitzvah, funeral, commercial studio EVER. And who would help me achieve this goal? No one, I could handle it all on my own.

Early on I was primarily concerned with proving myself. I spent an immense amount of time trying to stay up-to-date on all the latest technology and what gear I needed to save up for. I was determined to show I could do and learn everything on my own, and as a result I did not prioritize areas of business and creative growth that should have been prioritized. I managed all aspects of my company, including marketing and social media, customer service, production, post-production, and bookkeeping, while simultaneously attempting to educate myself on how to become a better photographer and business owner. By focusing on my ego, I inadvertently overlooked what I now believe to be the single greatest path to success – COLLABORATION. Over time I realized that if I really wanted to improve, I needed to let go of my ego and admit that I could benefit from working with and learning from other photographers and business owners.

Near the end of 2010, I came in touch with Chris Futcher of Christopher Futcher Photography. All I knew about Chris (outside of the fact that he is cousins with my then-girlfriend, now-wife) was that he lived just east of Toronto, Canada, had successfully established a micro-stock portfolio, and had become an exclusive contributor to iStock/Getty Images. One thing led to another, and in 2011 I found myself on a plane to Toronto.

kaspicreative, flyviewaerial, kaspi, fly view aerial

Chris (left) and Jonny (far right) with models during a two week trip shooting on the island of Kauai, winter 2015.

Over the past five years Christopher Future Photography became Kaspi Inc. and Kaspi Films. Likewise, I rebranded JL Photography as Fly View Aerial. My collaboration with Chris has directly influenced the direction I have taken my business, and the growth it has seen. Following my initial trip to Toronto in 2011, I decided to narrow the focus of my business to stock photography and video, rather than attempting to establish myself in the ultra-saturated areas of wedding and portrait photography. In addition, a trip to Toronto in 2012 served as the catalyst for my foray into aerial video and photography drone work.

In recent years drones, for good reason, have become THE thing to have on a production set. When Chris began building drones and marketing Kaspi as an aerial video and photography production company, Kaspi quickly become an established name in Canada and was thrust into the booming age of UAVs. In 2012, after seeing Chris’ success, I too became interested in drones and figured that with Chris’ guidance, the learning curve couldn’t be all that huge (just slightly incorrect). At this time there were only a few established UAV operators in the Pacific Northwest, and I knew that if I did things right, I had a good chance of breaking into that niche and solidifying my place before the industry completely blew up. So, I blindly dove head first into aerial production and rebranded my company as Fly View Aerial. I really can’t begin to list all the things I screwed up. There was a huge learning curve and it was extremely difficult. Pursuing aerial was an immense investment of time, energy and finances. I was constantly building, repairing and making adjustments on my custom drones. Early on my successes were few and far between and my resilience was tested. I pushed on and was constantly reminded of the need for collaboration. I continued to receive help from Chris and sought assistance from others involved with UAVs in and around the Portland, Ore. area. The stress associated with pursuing aerial video and photography probably aged me an additional 10 years, but it has been a total thrill and has allowed me to meet and work with amazing and talented individuals. If I could go back and do it differently, I wouldn’t.

While both Kaspi Films and Fly View Aerial have continued to find success in their respective aerial markets, Chris and I have also continued to update the stock portfolio Chris established back in 2008. The Kaspi team primarily operates out of Canada and Fly View Aerial primarily operates out of the United States, but we have sought opportunities to collaborate. Between 2010 and now, Chris and I have spent thousands of hours together both in Toronto and the western United States. We have completed hundreds of shoots, lived in an RV for several months while traveling for work, and strategized over Skype what our business goals are and how to achieve those goals. Chris’ creative talents have inspired and motivated me. In addition, I have learned more about business practices and the necessity of analytical thinking when owning and operating a business in a month’s worth of serious, intentional conversations with Chris, than in my entire four years of undergraduate studies.

So what the heck is the purpose of going down memory lane and how is it relevant to the present? With multiple contractors working with and shooting for both of our teams and each of us having full time producers, Chris and I have reached a point where the stock portfolio, FatCamera on iStock.com, is increasing in assets by hundreds weekly. Between Kaspi and Fly View Aerial, we shoot and upload content from anywhere between 30-50 photo/video shoots per month. We want to have a space where all the collaboration we’ve done and will continue to do is centralized. Kaspi Creative will allow us to brand what we do in a unified way.

I strongly believe that without the influence of Chris and the opportunities I have had to collaborate with him, I would not have learned what I have and it is very likely I would not have ever chosen to pursue stock and aerial. Chris and I both realize our collaboration has helped our businesses flourish, and we believe Kaspi and Fly View Aerial have reached a point where re-branding together is necessary. Thus enters Kaspi Creative. I am incredibly excited about what Kaspi Creative has in the works, and am confident in our ability to continue to bring you high quality content that is not only pretty to look at, but useful in a variety of applications. Thanks for being a part of our journey and for following along!

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