Thursday, January 22, 2009

I Have a Photography Expense Budget of $0

I recently bid on a photo shoot for an advertising agency in Vermont. The client was the world’s largest maker of Green Tea products, and it was a two day shoot of food, product photography, and people in lifestyle images. I knew I had a strong position with the food (see my website and product photography (see, but didn’t have a very strong lifestyle portfolio – most of my people images are portraits, headshots and corporate. The process started with 5 photographers, and then it was down to two, me and one other photographer. I lost the job due to my weak lifestyle portfolio, and I decided to do something about it.
With the economy depressed, and my business at a fraction of what it was last year, I didn’t have much of a budget to put together an impressive shoot. Just renting an upscale home for the shoot would cost several thousand dollars, and then there was the cost of models, makeup artists, clothes, etc. I decided to see what I could do with an $0, all trade shoot – trading free photography modeling, makeup and the location.
I knew my landlord owned 7 or 8 loft buildings, so I told him about the project. He invited me to shoot in his Beverly Hills 5,000 square foot mansion in exchange for portraits of his family. One problem down, two more to go. I put up casting calls on the Model Mayhem and One Model Place websites seeking makeup artists and models who needed lifestyle images for their portfolios. I got hundreds of responses, and was able choose several good models and two experienced hair and makeup artists.
The photo shoots were on two Sundays, as most of the models I was using had day jobs. The photos you see here were shot with a budget of $0, but I was very happy with the result. Yes, if I had spent $20,000 or $30,000 I would have gotten better results, however I accomplished what I set out to do. I now have a much larger lifestyle gallery at and a much stronger chance at the next lifestyle shoot that I bid on.

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