When I am hired for my abilities as a commercial advertising photographer, I usually become part of a team.  A marketing person or graphic designer might contact me to request a quote for a project.  Usually a detailed description of what the client is looking for visually will accompany a shot list.  Budgetary concerns might be mentioned up front.

Meetings and Walkthroughs

If my estimate is accepted, I like to meet with the designer or marketing person at the location to “map” out the photoshoot.  A prioritized shot list for the project is what I like to work from on location.  If it is a product shoot, the meeting takes place when the owner of the company drops off the items for me to photograph in my studio.  Sometimes, I work at the owner’s facility, depending on size and amount of merchandise there is to photograph.  Regardless, a meeting prior to the shoot date is imperative. I get ideas. I see the lighting. I determine if I need an assistant and I get a much better sense of what is expected from me.

commercial photographer's shot list


The meeting and walk though have taken place.  Now the physical action of capturing the images set forth by the marketing director happens.  I have my own visual intuition telling me when we nail the shot.  I know it when I see it.  Of course, on set,  I am not the final judge, but in my persuasive manner, (provided I believe it), I can proclaim my excitement about the latest image and keep the day moving.  If we have 15 setups to do that day, it is important to stay on schedule.

When we get an image that is 80% final, right out of the camera,  I am happy.  The finishing touches can be done in post production: cropping, highlight/shadow adjustment, removal of hot spots, etc.  We have a good raw image to work from.

Graphic designers are the superheroes

My raw images are retouched to the graphic designer’s specifications.  I then submit my finals back to her/him.  From there, often times, I never see the end result.  It may be a trade magazine or an in house publication or for a tradeshow. Sometimes, I do see the end result:  maybe on a return job for that client where I am happily surprised to see my work in the lobby on the walls.

Driving on the highway, I might see a truck with images I thought I would never see in the real world pass me by.  I can say that I have hardly ever been disappointed, seeing my work in it’s final application.  The reason is, I have been fortunate to work with many talented graphic designers over the years.  They are artists in their own right.   They combine their knowledge and skills, applying the most impactful cropping, fonts, toning, verbiage and all around style to support the imagery.

I love seeing the final product existing in the real world.  The graphic designer transforms my raw photography images to art in advertising.

Final applications in the real world

Below are a few examples showing the raw images I captured, followed by the finished product after the graphic designer has done their work.

UA 400 industrial photography made into facility wall hangings
Deb Fiebig – Public Relations Director,  Matt Bellisle – Graphic Designer
Quaker Bakery Truck
Tom Smith – General Manager at Quaker Bakery Brands Inc.
Werner Electric raw images to final applicaiton
Ken Lambert – Graphic Designer
Diamond Water truck
Tom Griesbach – President and Owner of Diamond H2O

Ephemeral displays

Advertising is fleeting. New products emerge. Styles change.  A company’s vision might change.   As I mentioned earlier, often times I photograph a project and never see the end result.  In the past, tear sheets from jobs were important for a photographer’s portfolio.  That is still true, but with so much of my work done for websites and digital applications, there is less printed proof of work done.

When I come across my imagery that was produced for public view, a billboard, a truck or a retail store signage, I am pleasantly surprised, thanks to a talented graphic designer on the back end.

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