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Monday, August 6, 2012

10 Things an Art Director Looks for in a Photographer


DennisDavisPhotography.com

And What Keeps Them Coming Back for More


Personality
You may 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.

Punctuality
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.

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Responsibility
When you 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 camera?

Creativity
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?

Problem Solving
With a 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.
DennisDavisPhotography.com

Lighting Genius
Lighting the 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?

In Control
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 are doing?

In Command
DavisPhotographic.com
Your judgment 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.

Technically Skilled
Photography 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 in-focus image.

Love
DennisDavisPhotography.com
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.

11 comments:

  1. I used to be an Art Director and I disagree. I was a business person and all I needed to know was these things:

    1. Did they have what I wanted for images?
    2. Was it within budget?
    3. Were they reliable?

    The rest are just qualifiers after the selection.

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    Replies
    1. Ed, I'm an art director and I'd have to disagree with you. While business is part of an art director's role and the 3 things you listed are factors, there is more to selecting a good photographer and getting the shots you want.

      A balance of artistry, raw talent, technical know-how, management skills, plus a good people personality are very important as well. I don't just want to get the job done; I want something exceptional rather than mediocre.

      Nice article Dennis; a lot of it comes down to good common sense, but not every photographer knows these points!

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  2. Hey Ed, so why did you give up being an art director? I know this is a tangent, but what about the job was disagreeable or what did you find that was better?

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  3. :-) I totally agree with you James. If an art director does not enjoy the experience of working with you how can you be on the same wavelength, which is such an important aspect of any shoot with any client not just art directors. My clients are more often the fashion designers themselves so I have to pick up on their vision and add my feelings and skills to make an image better than my client envisaged.

    Great article.

    :-)

    Bruce Smith
    PHOTOGRAPHER

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  4. Excellent points all Dennis!

    Any person looking to make a career of photography would do well to heed the advice that Dennis herein advocates. Following these ten protocols will serve in ensuring your photography career will be fulfilling and successful.

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  5. I agree with you Dennis; be passionate about what you do! Thank you for a beautifully written post.

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  6. Aloha,

    Excellent post and points, I also liked reading comments from practicing ADs on your post. Thanks for sharing

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  7. I can't tell you how often I've been told by clients who hire me regularly that the #1 reason they keep hiring me is because of how well I get along with, and treat, the people in front of my camera. I guess that comes under number one of the ten. Not saying the rest aren't important, they are, but for me, #1 has been #1.

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  8. If you do what you love you never work a day in your life! And it shows in ALL of your images.

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