Advertising photography is a field that many photographers want to get in to. It has the allure of working with big name companies who can provide regular work and good pay. You may also find yourself working with well-known people on both sides of the camera, and potentially working in a variety of exotic locations.
Getting to this stage isn’t an easy task at all though, as marketing is a complex and demanding business that will only consider the very best of workers at its top levels. If you really are determined to do it, you’re going to need a lot of drive and hard work. With that said, let’s look at some tips that could help you on your way to achieving this dream position.
Decide what type of area you want to get into and start by building a large, high quality portfolio of work centered around that area. It can be tempting to go wide in your early days and try to cover all types of subjects. This isn’t a bad idea for gaining experience and of course to keep work coming in.
Keep in mind though, it’s a lot harder to become a general advertising photographer than it is to become a specialized one. This is why you should build a portfolio based around one type of work and try to get into that first. From there it’s easier to expand to other areas if the opportunity arises.
You also need to make your work stand out from that of other photographers, so put in the extra time and effort that’s required to make your work better than that of the competition. This can involve getting to locations early to scout the best spots and decide how to integrate the location best into your shots, or putting in extra work on your own time to experiment with different settings, equipment and styles, finding those that work best for your chosen product or location.
Study those who are already highly successful in the fields you want to enter and see what they do well and how they add their own individuality to their work. This can act as a framework for you to learn from, and trying to emulate their work can give you a better understanding of how they achieve the quality they do.
Don’t just look at their work either, try to find interviews and articles explaining their methods and thought process so you can emulate it when you create your own. Sometimes these people may even be willing to give you some tips personally if you reach out to them, so don’t be afraid to try!
All products are different and they target different markets. This information can be useful to you when you understand what makes a product unique and also what people are looking for in it, as well as why they buy it. Knowing these facts can help you understand what you need to highlight when you’re shooting and adjust your style accordingly.
An example would be using edgier angles and filters for items marketed to teenagers, especially those into alternative culture, while perhaps trying more minimalist styles for those items aimed at an older, more sophisticated crowd.
Marketing is a very large industry where photography is only one small area. Increasing your knowledge of this industry as a whole can help you to land work and become a more integral part of marketing efforts.
There’s a big difference between a photographer who can understand an overall marketing vision and add to it, and a photographer who simply supplies pictures they think are good.
Understanding the angles and techniques that will be used in all areas and being able to show this to a company can land you more work and make you more sought after by marketing teams.
It isn’t always the best photographer that gets the job; instead it’s often the one that sells themselves best or who is considered ‘hot’. Apply what you learn about marketing to yourself, treat yourself as a company/product that needs to be ‘sold’ to your clients. Market yourself well to clients and be highly professional at all times.
Being easy to work with, friendly and going the extra mile can make a huge difference and could lead to big referrals down the line. Often a company will take the chance with a less experienced and proven photographer if they’ve heard a lot of good feedback and been told how easy you are to work with. Use this to your advantage and you can leapfrog more experienced workers.