So far I’ve pretty much uploaded nature and outdoor images that I so enjoy photographing. The one set of my neighbors house on fire was more a news event but otherwise I’ve shown my “off work” side of photography. However, since 1981 I’ve been a professional commercial photographer. If you are not aware what that ientails, it’s mostly less-than-glamourous work. No I’m not bashing the style, but it is a bit like a Rodney Dangerfield routine of “I get no respect”.
When you are a commercial photographer, you photograph just about anything… especially in the “old days” where everything was printed in shopping catalogs. Think of the old Sears catalog if you are old enough… what could you not find in that thing? And everybit was photographed by a staff of commercial photographers working is a dark studio somewhere, unknow largely to the rest of the world.
For the most part, photographers who do not own their own studios, show up for work and find out what they will be working on in a meeting. You grab the product, the equipment and the “layouts” — instructions on how to shoot the object — and hop to it. You work until lunch, take a break, then back to it until quitting time. Next day, repeat.
Technically, it’s hard and requires skill. Regardless of what you think your smartphone camera can do, when the file needs to be printed professionally on a printing press there are a host of parameters to meet. Our old joke– “if it looks bad on the screen (film in the old days) then it’s going to look great in print”.
Not everything is a bag of dog food, but believe me, I’ve shot thousands of “dog food on white” images, a slang term for plain everyday household items, such as shampoo, toothpaste, Tide, etc…. We’ve always acknowledged the “bread and butter” jobs that pay the bills, those allow you to photograph the fun stuff, take a bit of risk on the budget. Fashion is always the moral booster (see top image). I usually shoot about two fashion jobs a month, it breaks the routine of the studio up a bit, and you get to post pretty photos on your social media pages to make your friends jealous. I always love the responses… “Man you’re lucky”, “what a great job, wish I could do that”, etc… but reality is completely different. The glamourous shoots come with their own circus in tow… extra people in the studio all affecting the outcome and always the client looking over your shoulder. AND the realization that as soon as you finish photographing that hot model, you have a set of air conditioners waiting to be photographed.
It’s always an adventure 😉
Location shoots are fun-ish. They are fun, but they also require the most physical work. Packing up your equipment and products, worrying about damaging it all or it getting stolen. Traffic…. but in most cases once you arrive the adrenaline kicks in, or at least the coffee does and you begin the process of accessing your location and deciding what it will take to turn this project into “a work of art”… regardless of what the subject might be.
Location or studio, it’s all a job and like most it has moments of great fun and pride as well as moments you would just as soon forget about. I do feel bit like Clark Kent… what I photograph and do during the day is far from what I photograph off work and in my own time. I think we strive to do other things in our personal lives, think of a plumber; they usually don’t want to crawl under their own home after work or on a Saturday morning, they’ve done enough of that through the work week. Same goes for photographers (as a whole). For me shooting photographs of nature and lifestyle is a huge mental break for me and it documents my travels and personal life to boot. But I never said it wasn’t fun to shoot a giant bulldozer!