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A Simple Guide to Commercial Photography

A Simple Guide to Commercial Photography

Commercial Photography is fun. What photographer doesn’t have fun doing a shoot, getting told that they need to change this or that just a little, reshooting, getting told to change it back, reshooting, then finally getting told just to start over or that your client decide on something else entirely? I’ll make the answer simple: A sane one. Now don’t get me wrong, I do commercial photography all the time, and I rather enjoy it, but it is definitely something that you need to be ready for. Hopefully this guide will prepare you for that.

Be Professional

I once walked into a tryout for a commercial shoot with two other candidates, both photographers I knew, whose work was rather stunning (Dare I say better than mine at time). One of the photographers was dressed grungy, without any work to show the client, the other was in a full suit, with a 3 inch binder nearly pouring out there work. I on the other hand was dressed in no more than a polo and nice jeans, with a business card. I acquired the contract over the other two, and when I inquired why I was told: “You were the only one who looked like you were genuine, and made the interview as simple as possible, but mostly it was you knew what you were talking about and weren’t trying to overly impress us.”

In short, I secured a $20,000 contract simply because I wasn’t obviously pleading for the contract, I knew my stuff, and I made things as simple and straight forward as possible. That is the epitome of professionalism.

Shoot What The Client Wants and Then Some

Most commercial photography is basic product photography. Photo by samcatchesides.com.

If you’ve read any of my previous post you know that I firmly believe that you should never stop shooting. But when it comes to commercial photography, you should take that a step further. Most commercial photography is specific and broad. “I want you to shoot something that resembles this..”, “Can you find something exactly like this, or pretty similar..”, “This is exactly what I want, or something like it..” are all phrases I have heard when taking on many commercial jobs, so when I return the photo sets to them I always bring them exactly what they asked for and everything else I could find closely related. This will require a lot more work on your part, but typically the related shots tend to create even more business opportunities.

A new take on product photography that takes your clients expectations to new levels. Photo by Aameerule.

Initiative is a Key Asset
Commercial Photography is very different that portrait or location photography, but even more so in the fact that most commercial photography jobs will not present themselves to you, unless you are a big name photographer. So instead you should keep your eyes open for opportunities. Talk to local businesses and find out if they need work, and even if they don’t think they do, you show them why they do. If a business is engaging in a marketing campaign, but there product images are terrible, show them you can do better.

Patience is a Necessity
I once had a $50,000 contract that took almost a year to complete. I had the shoot and editing done in less than a week, but had to wait until November (I got the contract in February) until the business wanted the photos. There are many reasons something like this could happen when dealing with commercial photography, but regardless of the reason you need to be patient with the client business, or they may decide to drop you from the job. In my case, it was that the business wanted to wait till near the end end of the final quarter to make taxes easier, but also because they want to use the images for a holiday campaign.

Shoot to the Highest Quality You Can

Commercials shoots may also be used for advertising. Photo by Michael Kelly.

While you should always provide high quality images to any of your clients, it is even more important when dealing with commercial photography. This is because the images you provide them could be used for anything from small ads to huge banners, but also because a single well executed commercial photography contract can open the door to a huge array of opportunities, both commercial and personal

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