10 Things a Graphic Designer Wants From a Commercial Photographer
Nick has worked in many roles within the visual media industry and is a highly successful designer/illustrator. His clients include Orange, Time Out London, easyJet, Empire Magazine, Hyper Island, Nottingham Contemporary, LeftLion, UK Young Artists, lonely planet, Flannels, Sony Ericsson and The Guardian. Recently Nick created artwork for the 2015 Oscars ceremony.
We asked Nick to tell us the 10 things a graphic designer wants from a commercial photographer for a successful working relationship.
Marketing is Important
Nick: Have a clean well edited portfolio/website. E.g. show your best styles on the homepage so we can then delve into the style we are looking for.
CreativesGo: Any business has to have a showcase of their skills and abilities. We all know about the power of the website to sell a business. Whilst these aren't quite as important as they once were, it would be a brave business who decided to give this established marketing tool the brush-off. As Nick demonstrates, photographers are judged by the quality of their folio and this has be easy to find and well presented. The imagery could be great but if it's poorly displayed then it could reflect badly on the photographer. Quality, thoughtful and well designed marketing is important.
New Old Techniques
Nick: We very often need images with a white background with a lot of detail, if you can shoot these in new interesting ways you are on a winner.
CreativesGo: This is a tough ask, but successful photographers have managed to find new ways to present their work such that clients want to use them to create it. Perhaps finding a new way to shoot white-background product photography is a tall order, but striving to explore new techniques and styles is a good thing because it stretches the creative mind.
Know the Brief
Nick: Be 'in tune' with the creative brief, understand the final objective but also try and understand what the designer may be trying to get out of the process.
CreativesGo: This goes without saying really, or at least it should do. At no point should a working photographer ever be asked 'do you know what you're doing?' That's a disaster for the commission and a disaster for the client. Being prepared comes up a lot in this list but a photographer should never be afraid to put up a hand to say that something isn't clear. Doing that before the serious work starts will save a lot of pain later on.
Keep on Top of the Tech
Nick: Have an interest in new photographic technologies, it's another opportunity to create fresh looking imagery.
CreativesGo: We all know how technology has dramatically changed photography in recent years and it would seem that the technology steam-roller is showing little sign of stopping. It's now very difficult to stand still as a business because the new tech, software and equipment offer new styles and looks. Clients usually want to be seen to be always in fashion so want to use these new styles in their visual media. If one photographer can't offer the look, another will and that amounts to a lost commission. Keeping on top of the technology is part and parcel of being a photographer now.
Personal Work is Important
Nick: Share with us any experiments or personal projects they can often lead onto commercial commissions.
CreativesGo: When photographers are starting out there's a big push to create work for a portfolio to show clients. This is the minimum requirement to show the skills, style and capability of the creative. Hopefully when clients begin to offer work it's tempting to put this portfolio work to one side and concentrate on what clients want. This does make sense but it leaves the photographer's portfolio as a historic document that can only grow through the work coming from their clients. Most of this work isn't going to generate anything too spectacular that's likely to find it's way in to the folio so the photographer has to keep their folio fresh by adding work from personal projects. This is a useful opportunity to explore new genres and techniques. Perhaps the photographer wishes to explore a new direction for their business so doing personal projects can be a way of getting that experience before finding those new clients who will want to see hard evidence of the creative's knowledge. Personal projects work perfectly for this.
Know What the Client Wants
Nick: Be prepared, organise with the designer what will be needed for the shoot.
CreativesGo: This all comes down to tunderstanding the commission inside-out. We love business phrases and a favourite is 'fail to prepare, prepare to fail'. Which really means putting a lot of thought in to the job beforehand and knowing exactly what's to be done on the day and if that isn't done then there are more likely to be problems.
Nick: Have knowledge of different styles of photography and photographers we mention, it should help you to know what kind of lens or lighting you may need.
CreativesGo: Unless the photographer is hired because they have a specific style, the creative should be aware of the various styles and looks found in both contemporary and historic photography. Having the knowledge of these styles and the skills to replicate them effortlessly will mean being prepared for most situations the client can throw at the creative. This is part of a business's background process, researching what styles are in vogue and if neccessary, practising to ensure they can do it when it matters. Experimenting on the job is a big no-no.
Nick: Be vocal throughout the work with us, this will save time and energy.
CreativesGo: Most successful commissions are a collaberation between client and creative which means everyone contributes to getting the job over the finishing line. The hired creative will have expert experience which is why they've been hired therefore issues encountered by the creative should be highlighted and ways to fix them presented. 'Don't find problems, offer solutions'.
Nick: Sounds obvious but don't forget extra batteries and memory cards, it happens!
CreativesGo: Being prepared should be the cornerstone of the working photographer. In fact, we feel so strongly about this we wrote an article about it here. Reputations can be ruined by problems on a shoot so thinking ahead about what's required and what can go wrong is an important part of any commission. Don't be the cog in the process that causes the jam. As we said above, try to be the solution because people like problem solvers.
Nick: Have the willingness to try something different last minute for the sake of the idea.
CreativesGo: There's an old saying in business, 'the customer is always right'. Applying this philosophy can be hard work at times but keeping the client happy is an important part of being a service provider. Customers remember bad service more than they remember a good one and chances are they'll tell other people about a bad exprience. Of course Nick is saying be flexible so if the client decides on changes, it pays to be helpful with that process rather than making it difficult. Clients want to work with suppliers who help them achieve their goals and further commissions down the line will always depend on previous experiences with the supplier.
Nick's website: www.nickchaffe.com
Nick's portrait © Dave Frampton
This article was updated 16th December 2016.
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