Then there’s Art Director Wait-A-Minutus, who stays silent while you spend an hour setting up a blue background only to pipe in just before going to film that the client really hates anything on blue. And of course, Art Director Baby Sittus, who’s always asking for something, like “can your assistant run over to the store to pick up a gift for my wife?”
Jerry is a master at communicating his needs and keeping energy flowing towards a cohesive goal. We had three days to shoot five days worth of images. These were technically difficult still lifes with dental parahernalia hanging from thin wires. There were long rounds of tedious light painting with very specific color gelling, along with highly reflective objects and an exacting layout. Jerry not only made sure that we understood what was needed, he even sang songs with us at 1:00 AM when we needed to keep going. His contagious sense of creative joy and his high
level of professionalism and skill helped keep our positive energy flowing, turning an arduous day into a creative and technical photographic coup. I have had the good fortune of working with many people like Jerry.
attitude during some long and hard days was inspiring and energizing to the whole project.
What is the purpose of these photographs?
Where and how are they going to be used?
What are the client’s expectations and desires?
What are the art director’s expectations and desires?
What is the proposed budget?
What can be done to save money when your proposed budget is too high?
Does the art director understand the usage rights in the contract?
Does the client understand what they are buying?
Is there a tight layout or a loose concept?
Is the layout a starting or an ending point?
How hard was it to sell the end client on the layout?
What are the client’s expectations?
What happens when the photograph matches the layout but looks like yesterday’s leftovers?
What happens if the layout is not achievable?
Is exact color important, or can color be played with to create mood?
What props will be needed and who is going to buy them?
What is the prop budget and what happens if it is not enough?
What talent is needed, and who will do the casting?
plus there were major complications in assembling the merchandise to be photographed, among other things. During the shoot the client turned to me and said, “You know Zave, if you see something cool that isn’t on the shot list, go ahead and shoot it”. I had to ignore this remark because I wasn’t even sure we could get the basic requirements of the shot list done.
occur when I think that I understood the goal of the photo shoot, when I don’t. This usually happens when I assume the layout to be the end point of the shoot and do not press onward to create something special. Or, the exact opposite happens and I use the layout as a jumping off point for my creative vision not knowing how hard it was to sell this exact layout to the client in the first place and the impossibility of any change. When my pre-shoot questions
lead to a firm understanding of what is expected, then I can be better prepared creatively for the shoot.
like this?” as he pointed to a gorgeous spread filled with specialty props and antiques from some set stylists attic. We had no plans, no props bought for this type of shot, but we had a lot of frustrated energy lying around the studio to work with. Realizing that he was on to something, we broke the set down and started from scratch. With material my set stylist happened to have brought in for some test shots, extra props from previous shoots lying around the studio, and ingenuity, we created a beautiful and conceptually appropriate shot. Result: happy photographer, and a very happy client. This worked because it was a client who I personally like and respect plus a creative team that listened to each other. There have been times though when the client suddenly pulled an idea out of the sky and we had to say “no”. The resources or the budget to do what was being asked simply weren’t there. Saying “no” to a
client is very hard for me to do, however there are many times when it is the wisest thing to say. When confronted with doing a project half-way and thus producing results that will not be good for the client, I believe it is better to say “no” and protect your reputation as an image creator and theirs.