Creating a new body of Commercial Work
I've shot Product in secret for clients since the mid 90's. I've recently decided to finally admit, I've been cheating on my portrait photography with still life and small products this entire time.
The reason I started this blog was to have a place to share ideas, inspiration and new bodies of work. I’ve been a working photographer for over 30 years. Along that journey I’ve specialized in shooting people pretty much exclusively. I get so much back from shooting portraits, shooting for magazines. Shooting Show Artwork for popular TV series and of course shooting celebrities from time to time. There’s an exhange with photographing a person.
Along side that work I’ve always worked on personal projects. That personal work first was my portrait photography. I got into photography early, when I 14. By the time I was 17 I had seen Vogue and knew I wanted to shoot fashion. Shooting fashion brought me to shooting fashion accessories for my biggest client back then, the Globe & Mail. I shot for their fashion magazine as well as shooting my first editorial portraits, which came from my personal work. I shot my first cover for F&D quarterly back when I was 23. I would often be required to shoot small products to go with these editorials. That work would be seen in the spread but I would leave it from my portfolio. All of my other personal projects became actual work as they were all people related.
Through the years I’ve shot products in studio and products on figure for various clients, and I’ve enjoyed it along the way. As time went on, Cannabis became legal here in Canada which that opened an entire other niche that I fell into where my product photography stills came into play way more often. Of course cannabis content is still polarizing for some so I made a separate site as it’s completely targeted to Cannabis brands trying to bring their product to market, retailers (and flower lovers I guess.)
Truthfully, I’ve always shot products, quietly, in the background. Product photography has always been that Side Chick that I would go check from time to time, make that money and act like it never happened.
I think it’s time for me to be more public about cheating on my people photography by telling the world I also shoot products, commercially. I’ve just never promoted it. I’ve always loved the Still Life and artful product shooters like Raymond Meier.
True mastery of photography comes when you master shooting people, places and things.
Creating this type of photography, which I make out of pure inspiration, should be talked about and shared in a public forum. I’m starting right here on SubStack. And I’m trying to create super targeted work that evokes curiosity and also has commercial applications, and I’m bringing you along the way.
Now If I only had an interesting angle.
That brings us to new work. An old dog trying some old and new tricks all smashed together to bring you a few new ideas. Let’s start with “Candy is not Food.” Thoughts appreciated.
The idea here was pretty simple. The message? “Candy is not Food.” Execution, Shoot an asian inspired set and replace noodles with candy, and use a candy with a bit of hyper colour. I tried it with both dark and light sets.
I wanted to punch in a bit so I tried a bit more of a top down angle and added a corner crop. I like this image much bit I’m still on the fence about the overall idea to be honest..
The next day I looped it all back around and started in with a new subject. Coffee.
I started pretty simple with a top down look at a uniform surface of beans. Coffee is a huge niche obviously and I’ve shot Cannabis with great care over the last years, why not apply the same energy to creating some coffee content? There isn’t an exact theme here just sensory coffee overload.
After establishing some coffee filled frames at various closeness, I finally got to use my smoke machine for the reason I bought it. Bringing in controlled bursts of smoke really added the element I needed to take these shots over the top.
Changing my camera angles after I nailed each idea and getting intimate with these beans, adding the smoke created the work that I believe would fly for stock photography and get me some attention within the coffee space. Having options with the smoke and some without also gives me variations.
And this last vertical is a great cover for Coffee Addict Magazine. Although the “Candy is not Food” isn’t as inspired as I had hoped, it is idea driven. I bounced back with coffee. I’ll revisit shooting candy in creative ways and find that creative angle I’m looking for. Although I may not have found it this round, I discovered, creating sensory rich coffee images could be something I could get into and grow to be amazing at. Adding a new niche to your body of work, that you also love to do, is smart money.
I hope today’s post inspired you to exercise the skills you have, and maybe look back at some old work to remind yourself of the skills you have but may not be using. If an thought is there, brainstorm it, turn it into an idea and try it. Attempting to turn the thought into an Idea is the gold. The worst that could happen is that it doesn’t blow you away, and you go onto another idea or try and try again.
You get better every time you look through that little window. If this post inspired you to try something new, please take an second to tap that ❤️ button. Helps more than you know. Consider subscribing if you like this type of content, I deliver it every Saturday and like today, sometimes even an inspired weekday post.
See ya on the next one.
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