What does that mean exactly? If you have been or are looking to start shooting for commercial clients. Its important to understand the who, what, where and why of your clients expectations. They are going into the shoot relying on you for certain things. The most obvious is the final product but some of them also rely on you to direct them through the process to achieve the final product. At some point, you are called on to be an art director (how to arrive at your final goal), stylist (knowing what looks good together), location scout, and even a talent scout. If you don’t have the support crew to complete certain tasks, it’s up to you. The following is a real life example of how this can happen:
It’s Monday morning and a potential client from New York emailed me to ask if I can put together a yoga shoot by Thursday and have selected edits emailed out Friday morning. In addition, they wanted me to secure a location and have eight models for the shoot. They were looking for eleven different looks, setup in a yoga studio, and one outdoor location. I took a couple of minutes to digest the email and determine if it was feasible to pull this off. I said we can definitely pull off the looks indoors, but I was not sure we had enough time to go to an outdoor location. After agreeing to scrap the outdoor location, he promptly booked his flight to Chicago. He was bringing all the necessary yoga apparel and gear with him on the plane as there was not enough time to ship it to Chicago. In the meantime, I spent the next two days confirming talent and support crew while reviewing the mood board sent by the clients art department to determine what looks are best for what part of the studio.
Wednesday night arrived and that’s when my client was supposed to fly into Chicago from New York. Something occurred while he was going through security at the airport. All of his luggage containing the yoga gear and apparel made it on to the plane, but he did not. He called me and asked if I could go to baggage claim and get the bags while he caught the next available flight, which happened to be at midnight. I agreed without hesitation. Once you agree to take a job, it is necessary to do what ever it takes to deliver the finished product! After securing the product, I dropped it off at the yoga studio and headed home for the night knowing tomorrow was going to be a long day.
Thursday morning came and the client informed me that he will be at our location late morning and to start without him. This was not the ideal experience for the first time working with someone, but I had the skill to deal with this kind of situation. I still needed input on setups and final image approval, but no one was on site to do this. In order to get the shoot started and headed in the right direction, I added a viewing gallery to my website and uploaded low-res images so the client in New York could approve the images as we go. This wasn’t the ideal structure since we were on a time crunch, but it worked pretty well. I received approval on images before heading to the next setup and in order to make the most of our time, I had the models dressed and set to go when their setup was ready.
This setup actually worked out really well and only minimally slowed down the shooting pace. I was able to continue throughout the day. My client checked in on set around eleven and he was extremely happy with the results thus far so he only stayed for a couple of hours and then headed back to New York. In the end, the shoot was a huge success and they turned out to be a very happy repeat client. As you can see, as a commercial photographer, a lot rides on your ability to delegate responsibilities and preform multiple tasks. You have to do more than just take the photograph. You have to make sure everything gets accomplished and the final product gets delivered as agreed upon.
Here are some of the edits from the shoot.
The day went so well I was able to complete the request for an outdoor location. This goes back to my favorite saying. “Under promise and over deliver!”
How did I really complete such a daunting request from a potential client? I know what I don’t know! And that comes with years of experience. I knew that completing eleven plus looks and setups in one day is very difficult. I learned a lot from this experience. When my phone isn’t ringing from potential clients, I am working on my craft. I have shot at the yoga studio so much I knew every angle of every room. I also would some time put time restraints on some of my shoots to see if I could still complete quality work under a time crunch. All of these previous shoots prepared my for this day.
Know your equipment and know your surroundings. With that you can accomplish any task your client requests of you.
My full portfolio can be viewed here Chicago Fitness Photographer.