“My cousin is also a commercial photographer”

Last project I have shot brought something familiar to my attention. The client was visibly (and understandably) upset that he had to redo a photo shoot for the items produced by his company after having a bad final result from yet another “commercial photographer” based in Montreal. Since I encounter this situation far too often I decided to write a blog post concerning this matter.

In the case of this last project, the client sells high end glassware and he couldn’t live with the images delivered by the cousin/photographer which, in all honesty, were far under mediocre. The problem for the “photographer” was that the client had specific needs for a specific product (in this case a transparent object ,containing food, isolated on black). This didn’t fit the respective “professional” town college educational box or his light tent. The results were unacceptable.

Since this situation creates a lot of confusion on the clients’ side and is detrimental for real pro photographers who are struggling to pay studio rent every month without having a different day job, here is my advice to the novice entering the market:

– Rule nr. 1: DO NOT GIVE AWAY YOUR WORK CHEAP/FREE to compensate for lack of skill. Don’t devaluate yourself or you might be caught in the “cheap professional” trap which has no future.

– Decline projects that you can’t decently deliver. If you can’t follow the learning curve PRIOR to a specific project, refuse it or recommend someone who can. This will eliminate awkward and unpleasant situations and will increase your credibility.

– Practice trumps any education from 6 months college courses (which I consider useless except the “social interaction” factor)

– When you price your work, do it (hypothetically) considering the expenses that you will have when you will actually have a location/career in the photography field(eg. pay taxes, pro grade gear etc).

And since talking is “cheap”, here is an example of the outcome from my yesterday shoot (for the sake of decency I will not show what the other  “commercial photographer” did). Note: the product was isolated in-camera and not in postproduction.



Gear used:

Phase One IQ140 + Phase One 645DF +  Mamiya 120mm macro

Profoto D1 with various Profoto difusers