The story behind the New York and Milan production agency, Cute
Photo and video production agency
Recently, we had the opportunity to speak with the full service production company Cute NYC, started by Paola Colella. Specialising in photo and video production across a range of industries, from still life to fashion, Cute NYC has established itself as one of the leading agencies in Europe and the US. With photographers, stylists and directors on their books, Cute NYC offers clients the highest quality service for both pre and post production and we are excited to share our interview with them.
Where does the name ‘Cute NYC’ come from?
It really doesn’t have a story. We are an office filled with 'cute' women and the creative who was working on the brand concept came up with the word CUTE! We added the NYC part as we recently opened an office in New York City.
Why did Cute expand to NYC?
It was quite a natural transition as Paola is both Italian and American, having been born in Philadelphia, and so we always had ties to the U.S.
Cute NYC was founded over 20 years ago, what have been the biggest changes in the industry since then?
Of course the digital revolution has really changed the industry, there are far less printed campaigns and a lot more focus is on digital.
Has social media impacted your work? Has this impact been positive or negative?
I would say the impact has been largely positive. We now get a lot of requests to produce social media content, especially by fashion brands. For example, we recently created the content for IKEA's social media campaigns for the launch of their new Italian catalogue. So I would definitely say that the emergence of social media has created a lot of new projects for us.
You cover the production of fashion, food, still life, and lifestyle. In which sector one do you get most frequent requests?
It really differs, one year we do a lot of still life, one year we do more fashion-based projects, it really depends on the current trends and what the client prefers at the moment. As our photographers cover a wide range of industries, we are always able to adapt to our client's demands and the changing trends.
How do you recruit new photographers?
We receive a lot of photographer requests, I would say I receive around 20 email requests a day. I always look at their portfolios and try to answer as many as I can. I usually archive the contacts and when we have a new scouting, I'll go back and research who applied and see if their photography talent matches the current research.
Where are most of your employees based?
Our talents are based all over the world, from Germany to Los Angeles, but most of our photographers are based here in Milan.
And where are most of the projects based?
We try to use local photographers for jobs, and so at the moment most of our jobs are here in Milan, but we travel the whole world for different projects. It really depends on the client and their needs.
What would you say is one of the biggest problems your agency faces?
It’s a really fast world. Clients are always asking for the job to be done for yesterday. We will start working with a client, and they will ask if we can shoot tomorrow. This often creates a bit of a struggle for us, as we are always running! But at the end we are always ready in time.. We are good runners!
Lastly, any advice for up-and-coming photographers?
I think photographers should find a specific focus. There are a lot of photographers out there, so in order to be successful and to stand out, you need to find a specific niche. The photography world is also extremely fast and ever-changing. There are so many new trends, that it's vital that photographers stay up to date with new techniques for retouching and shooting. Having an active social media is also important, platforms like Instagram are becoming very useful for photographers to promote themselves. There are really great photographers out there with terrible personal sites, this does not reflect well on them. Especially for luxury and important clients, it is important that they work with photographers that have a strong social media presence as a photographer’s social media page serves in a way, as a business card for them.
So do you look at photographer's social media presence when your are considering to hire them?
Yes, it’s not nice to say, but we do look at their social media. Clients look at photographer's social media, so it's more important to them than for us. Again, since there are so many photographers out there, it is important for them to find their specific focus and point of view, and to show this through their digital presence.