Have you ever thumbed through a magazine or surfed the web and come across a picture that was so perfectly staged it made you want to buy whatever is in the image? This is commercial photography. A mixture of planning, lighting, staging, and processing. If you’ve got all that down and a great imagination to bring a product to life, you just need to find a company that will give you a chance to show what you can do.
This may be my favorite type of photography. Though I do enjoy spending time outdoors waiting for the sun, clouds and subject to be just in the right spot, there is something I love about thinking of an image and planning to make it a reality. Now admittedly, I am not some master commercial photographer. Truth is I have made very little in this area due to my own lack of motivation to dedicate enough time to chasing this dream. But, I have fond that with social media being so prevalent these days, it’s very easy to get your images noticed by specific companies.
The first product shots I ever seriously took was for a local bakery in New Braunfels, Texas. This wasn’t something I was hired to do and I didn’t make any money on the images. It was more for the experience and to see what I could do. Honestly, most of the time I just enjoy the process so much I would do it for free anyway. After posting them on the baker’s Facebook page, they reached out to me to see if they could use 2 of them on their website and possibly to print for business. I was pretty flattered and give them the images below as long as they left my watermark.
After getting a little confidence in what I could do with just photographing an object, I started to experiment with different lighting, doing a little more staging, thinking outside of that I though someone would normally do. Not as easy as I thought at first. It seems all the great photo ideas have been taken so most of my time was spent trying to find something I liked and elevate it. Below is a row of tequila shots that came from something I saw in a magazine. The original image just had 2 shot glasses and a bottle in the background.
Now you’re going to start to notice a theme here and will probably recommend that I start attending AA meetings. I think a lot of people stick close to what they know and well, I may know a bit about whiskey. My first attempts at shooting whiskey pictures were pretty boring and normal, but I was happy with them at the time.
I used what I had around the house for these. Whiskey, a mirror, glass, and some speed lights…. Not very interesting as I mentioned but a learning experience all the same. After shooting a bit with actual ice I realized how difficult this was going to be. The ice would melt pretty quickly and I was constantly trying to get the cubes into the right position before they moved. If you ever plan to do anything with ice, I would recommend buying some high quality fake cubes.I picked up a set of 40 1 x 1 cubes for about $20.00 on Amazon.com.
The shot above was done using a StopShot, something I covered in a previous posts about water drop collisions. This just came from an idea and wasn’t done for anyone pacific. Looking back, this could have been much better adding some branding or just better staging.
The picture above was taken in my spare time for a great veteran owned business here in Texas. They do a lot of outreach for veterans that are coming back from the war and may need some help getting back to normal here in the states. It wasn’t much but I wanted to do something for those that are always doing for others. After sending it to them and reaching out on social media, they let me know they were impressed and would really like to see something a bit different that they could use. I shot the picture below for them, it is still one of my favorites.
Below are a few more of my favorite shots from my “Vices” album. They are geared more toward cigars as you will see, but I didn’t get far from the whiskey.
If I could pick just one genre of photography to make a living on, this may just be it. Some of the really great commercial photographers can spent endless hours coming up with and idea, then days innovating and planning to make that idea come to life in a briefer second. I follow several on Facebook, YouTube and email newsletters like Karl Taylor. He’s pretty bad ass and I may have a little man crush on his work. One of my favorite shots he has done involves 2 “ski jump” like ramps used to launch 2 glasses of whiskey (complete coincidence) into each other. I have watching and re-watching videos of his processes, lighting, planning, and attention to detail like I have a final tomorrow.
Someone told me a long time ago, find something you’re passionate about and learn how to make money doing it. Though I agree with that, I think it needs to be expanded on. Find something you’re good at. Passion will get you so far but it is up to you to challenge yourself, expand on you knowledge and constantly improve on your craft. But what do I know, I’m still in the beginning stages.I just keep telling myself it just takes one. One image, song, report or sale. You just need that one thing to make you shine and be noticed by the right person. Maybe that person is you.