Photography tips, training, lessons and examples by famous Los Angeles Commercial photographer Dennis Ray Davis.Life lessons from corporate and advertising shoots, and "how to" articles about photography.
Los Angeles, California commercial photography clients keep Mr. Davis on industrial, corporate and advertising shoots for restaurants, catalogs, advertising agencies and magazines.
create amazing images, but if you work with others you have to be enjoyable to
be around, personable, fun and respectful. Your personality is your most
important asset. If you are shooting portraits, it’s your personality that gets
the model to smile, so you’ve got to be fun. Your honesty has to come through
when asked a serious question, because a lot of people are counting on you
bringing home the winning shot.
I don’t care
if you think you might need another memory card for the shoot, if your call
time is 9:00 am, then 8:45 am is not a good time to start looking online for a camera
store. The shoot won’t start without you there, so cut back on the late night
parties when you have a shoot the next day, and set TWO alarms if you want to
keep your art director as your best friend.
give your creative director or art director your word, you must follow it up
with actions. Make to-do lists every day, and if you can’t keep track of the preparation
that it takes to make a big shoot happen, get a production manager that can.
Photographer’s often have to hire food stylists, location scouts, models,
clothing stylists, makeup artists, hair stylists, and at times, a fleet of RVs.
How are your management skills? What can you do in addition to handling a
Can you take
an idea from an art director, give them exactly what they ask for, and then
make it even better? Can you visualize what the client is selling, and help
them sell it? Can you imagine what
changing something small that will make a huge change in the final image? Can
you make a one bedroom apartment in Kansas City look like a beach house in
Malibu? What do you bring to the table that no one else could bring?
studio shoot, a photographer has at least some control over their environment,
and years of experience would have taught them what tools are most important to
have at hand. But on a location shoot, the number of tools available is limited
to what you bring with you. Do you need a bigger truck? In fact, learning to do
more with less is a gift that the best photographers learn to cultivate.
Do you need
to hide the fact that your set is missing two walls? That’s what shadows are
for. Do you need 6 lights and only have two? That’s what reflectors are for.
Don’t have reflectors? Look for aluminum foil. Fix the problem, make it work,
now. Everyone is waiting, counting on you.
single most important thing you bring to the table to give an image your “look”.
Other than composition, lighting is it. Read about light, study it, love it and
control it. Your art director will look to you, the lighting guru, to create glamour,
excitement, mood and atmosphere where there is none. Are you up to the task?
There are 1,004
things that can go wrong on a shoot at any time. However, there are some things
you can be in control of. Do you have an extra set of batteries for everything
you own? Do you have extra cables for everything that needs them? Have you
prepared any assistants, stylists or makeup artists with emails in advance,
followed up by phone calls, preparing them for the shoot? Do you have your art director’s
cell phone on speed dial? Can you communicate effectively with vendors,
teammates, clients, models, and still be on top of what your camera and lights
is final. You are the only one that can say “yes, we have the shot”. You are responsible
for getting everyone else involved in making the shot happen the way that you
and your art director envision it. Can you get people to smile when you need them to? You
can if you are funny, playful and fun. The client’s girlfriend says “I think it
would look better if we changed the background color to green” If you don’t
agree with that opinion, you better be prepared with a logical reason why not.
You are the artist. People are counting on your sense of style to make a great
image. Take charge.
is a crazy marriage of technology and art, and you need to be in control of
your tools. The morning of the shoot is not the best time to test out a new toy
from the camera store. Your art director is counting on you to know your gear,
understand your tools, and give them an accurately exposed, well composed, and
If you are
getting into photography for the money, try a different career. I am a
photographer because I love beauty, I love creating and capturing gorgeous
light, and I love making things pretty. You have to learn to love the simplest things,
like a bottle of shampoo, and turn it into a hero, a knight in shining armor,
answer to every head of hair’s needs. Do you really, really love making great
images? Then follow your heart, and the money will come.