Finding and Keeping Commercial Photography Clients
NOTE: This is a course for emerging commercial photographers. The methods we discuss may be of interest to consumer photographers as well, but are highly focused on the commercial part of our industry. Thank you.
This is part one of a five part free course on finding and keeping commercial photography clients. It is an introduction to a far more robust course that will be offered July 1. There is no ‘selling’ in this video – or the next three, but in the last one I will show you how to sign up for the more detailed and comprehensive program. These videos are high in value and even if you do not sign up for the full course, you will find them extremely helpful.
To get the remaining 4 videos, please signup for “In the Frame”, my weekly dispatch. The classes will come to you one per week. You will find the sign up on the right hand column. Thank you for being interested, now let’s talk about your portfolio.
The first set of images from the 8 Week Portrait Class came in last evening and they are really good. The class takes a close look at 8 major portrait photographers by analyzing what they do, how they accomplished their imagery and what the thought process was behind the work.
The students then create a shot that was inspired by the photographer we studied. The goal for some is to replicate the style (to see if they can capture it) and for others it is to simply be inspired by the work and then create something within their own style that pays homage to the photographer.
We call it building the toolkit. The more ways you can think of to create an image, the more your creativity will take over. Creating your own personal style is the goal, learning from those who have great personal style is a method that works.
This first image set was inspired by the work of Skrebneski.
(My daughter, Alissa, wrote this Friday for one of her final assignments. It fits in nicely for mother’s day.)
My mom used to tell my sisters and me that if we ran through the sprinklers we would feel like different people. We could do anything, be anything, without worrying about the future. When we ran through the sprinklers we were transported to whole different worlds. Some with endless possibilities. All with childlike joy and imagination. “The sprinklers will always be there for you. You just have to look for them.”
My older sister and I used to run through the sprinklers every afternoon in the park near our school. We skipped to the park and stopped by the edge of the grass. We put our backpacks down and took off our shoes, then lined our toes up to where the sidewalk meets the grass – just barely touching the wetness. I would close my eyes and hear my mother’s voice echoing in my mind, telling me I could be whatever I wanted to be in those sprinklers. I looked at my sister and we held hands as we were transported to a different world. Running through sprinklers. Running through sparkling, diamond drops of water. Possibilities. Joy.
I am now a senior in high school. My baby steps are over, and it’s time to become an adult. Being an adult comes with responsibilities and worries. I walk home from school on a sunny day and I think about the future. What will I study in college? Will I graduate? Will I ever move out of my parents house? How will I pay for all the adult stuff like insurance and utilities? Will I ever get a job to help me pay for all of these things? Will I find a career that I love?
My mind was ripped away from that worrisome reality when I felt water hitting my toes. I looked up to see the sprinklers in the park near the school. I glanced around. Was anyone going to see me? Who cares?! I put my backpack down and took my sandals off, and lined my toes up to where the sidewalk meets the grass. My toes barely touched the wetness. I looked around again, and then I went for it. As I ran through the sprinklers carefree and in my own world, I could hear my mom’s voice, “You can be anything, do anything.” I was laughing as all my troubles went away. I was in a different place where I felt safe and free. There were endless possibilities. Whatever happens in life that makes me stressed and upset, I can and will always count on those sprinklers to be there for me. I believe in running through sprinklers and connecting with my inner child. I’ll never let go of her, especially when she is needed most. The sprinklers will always be there – I just have to look for them.
This portrait class (and the companion 102 class) have been huge successes. The students are fired up and some are saying they are making the best images of their lives.
We look closely at the work of 8 major portrait photographers and study their way of working, lighting, posing, gestures, style and presentation. NOT in order to copy them, but in order to find the elements that ring true with our own experiences and aesthetics. To be ‘inspired by’ is the goal, and we all want to be inspired by the best.
Skrebneski, Karsh, Moon, Lindbergh, Ritts, Winters, Sieff, and Coupon are amazing photographers. Each brings something to the art of photography that can inspire us to push harder, light better, be more deliberate with our work.
Many of the students remark that their images coming straight out of camera are better and better. When we think deliberately about what we are doing, the quality of the work cannot help but get better.
We currently are enrolling for a class that starts May 19th, 2015.Get more information here. These are limited engagement classes.
I love Photography Books, and have a wall of them waiting for me when I have some quiet time and simply want to stimulate my brain. From early works of Steichen and Cunningham to books by Demarchelier and Watson, the photography book is one of my great loves.
There was a moment a few years ago when I thought the era of photo books was coming to an end. But lately so many great books are coming on the market that it gives me renewed hope that they will stay with us for a long while.
“These four images come from a larger selection of images that I recently shot for The Cheese Lover’s Cookbook, so the common thread is, of course, cheese. The cookbook author made most of the food, and we worked together to style the shots—and sample the food. Bonus. I was grateful that Don had said over and over “Shoot to layout!” because I had the sense to ask for image size. Finding out the images were expected to fill an 8×9 page was extremely helpful—limiting, but helpful.
This set is probably not as personal as Don had expected for this final assignment, but I’m submitting them because they represent something important to me—my first paying commercial photography assignment. At the beginning of Project 52, Don had said he hoped everyone would get at least one paying commercial gig before the Project was over. I was pretty sure I was going to be the exception because I had so much more to learn than everybody else. Surprise! I got a gig. And it kicked my butt…but I learned a lot.”
“This project grew out of some recent discussions about drawing inspiration from anyone, anything, and everything around you. I admit, I drew a lot of inspiration for this idea from Irene Liebler’s series she did across last year of Common and Idiomatic Phrases – Feet To The Fire, Leaving The Nest, and so on. I thought that idea would be something I could do in my own style. I love her work, but I don’t see the world the way she does, and that’s a Good Thing™. I love that, having seen it week in and week out, we can all take the same subject and come up with completely different results.
I am doing this idea of taking old proverbs, common phrases, and idioms because it will lead to some interesting photographic possibilities, and be expandable far beyond a 5-10 shot series. I like this personal project for me, specifically, because those possibilities can extend through all of the artistic forms I enjoy working with, from portraits to still life, composites, and a whole lot of concept work. Heh, concept work: This was the area I really wanted to concentrate on for this last P52 project, as I see it as needing the most development in my own artistic growth going forward.
I absolutely love these images. From composition through framing and of course the patina, they are simply lovely.
“Mervyn O’Gorman was 42 when he took these pictures of his daughter, Christina O’Gorman at Lulworth Cove, in the English county of Dorset. He photographed Christina wearing a red swimming costume and red cloak, a colour particularly suited to the early color Autochrome process. “
“I chose to make a series of portraits of a single person. I chose this project because I am very interested in everything that constitutes a person as it is important to me to capture who a person is not just a pretty picture. I photographed parts of the subject, which progressively make up the most of the entire individual but never completely. We made many images and it was difficult to limit the choices and parts to create a whole person. Is it just parts of the body, personal interests or a combination of both? I changed my choices a hundred times as she also loves reading, writing and hot chocolate. Choosing an editing style was also difficult because finding a style that suited all the images was a challenge. I feel like I captured a part of her being – attractive, edgy, confident, private, and capable… We shot outdoors at different times over a couple day to maximize the effects of the sun. I brought strobes and flashes but only ended up using the sun and reflectors.”
“Concept: a girl who carries her dreams in a suitcase. These dreams aren’t plans, or in any way constructive – they are merely a distraction from the beautiful, fleeting moments that life places in front of her. Yet they are so dominant over her, so heavy, that they spill out of the suitcase and intertwine with the real world… and still she carries them around.”
“I have always been more interested in the power of what a good photograph or film can do – not who created it and what box that creator fits into. I’m interested in the story one has to tell. We are visual communicators and we are all unique but only if we listen to our own voice and create from that voice. Whenever I have trusted and listened to my internal voice and created from my own unique perspective and my life’s experiences, I have been “on purpose” and my work has resonated across genders, race and age. I suppose I could copy or mimic the “style du jour” whether it is HDR or photographing hipsters with tattoos and attempt to be someone I’m not. I don’t have the desire to do that because that is not why I became a photographer or filmmaker. That’s not to say that I don’t like and appreciate photographers who are following these styles but it’s not me and creativity doesn’t come from mimicking others. I’ve seen a lot of styles and techniques over the decades I’ve been in the photo business. They come and they go – just like the photographers who chase after the latest trend.”