Running a photography business is educational and incredible in so many awesome ways. We are in our 8th month and have completed 67 shoots. This post is dedicated to what I've gotten out of doing commercial shoots thus far.
I did a commercial shoot for GE at the end of April and it was a great experience. It was my third commercial shoot since EKP has been operating. The first was for an airplane company in Florida and I shot one of the Cubs' pitchers during spring training for them. The second was for an alumni magazine at the University of Texas, San Antonio and I photographed a leader in our community. Commercial shoots are unique experiences that, for me, have brought new opportunities to expand my skill set and comfort zone with photography and people.
Here are some of my take aways:
1. Stay committed to your vision. My goal is to "capture the love and energy of the good life" and while circumstances beyond my control (time to shoot, time of shoot, quality of environment, celebrity status, purpose of shoot) dictated these shoots, I eventually realized that my vision must always be the priority. I wasn't able to fully grasp this until the third shoot. I was star struck with the baseball player and mired in the hiring group's details with the community leader but finally found my groove with the GE employee. I spent 10 of the 20 minutes I had with her doing what GE wanted and then 10 doing what I liked. It wasn't long enough to achieve total perfection but I walked away feeling as if I had created some images that made her feel beautiful AND I accomplished what I was hired to accomplish.
2. Read the contract - not just the summary - but the whole darn thing. I read the summary of an 11 page contract and it matched my proposal so I signed it. Later, I learned that I signed off on some very basic things that you sinply don't sign off on...sigh - live & learn - and read every word.
3. Be quick on your feet and be flexible. For each of the shoots, I was fortunate to have access to open shade even though 2 of the shoots were at high noon, per the subjects' schedules. I arrived early to each shoot (on each subjects' home turf) to scope out available light, available shade, mood of the space and prospective backdrops. The extra scouting gave me a little more room to be flexible and fast with whatever circumstances presented themselves.
4. Gather & Disperse: Aside from the fact that commercial shoots can be more lucrative than highly personalized portrait sessions, another bonus is that commercial jobs have inspired a new level of spontaneity that I've been able to apply to all types shoots. This level of spontaneity is truly a gift!
5. Clarity matters. For each shoot, the subject was not interested in being photographed. I had to elicit something from them to get something in the images. In each shoot, I spoke with each subject maybe 3 minutes prior to clicking the shutter so I had to develop rapport AS I shot which is not always easy. Being clear in my direction and secure with my vision allowed images to emerge that met the demand of the project as well as my own aesthetic demand.