Cut the Clutter!

If there's anything I've learned over the years working in this business, it’s that making great photographic imagery has NOTHING to do with the fancy, high tech gear your sporting!  Let me explain. 

At the beginning of my career, I had a vision of what a commercial photographer should look like. We would roll up to set with a truck of gear, carting every piece of equipment a young photographer could dream of. Lights, Booms and C-Stands, oh my! In my mind, this was the equation: the more gear I brought, the more I must have to offer a client I was wrong! 

If I’m being honest, it wasn’t just about impressing our clients. Within the industry, there is an ego about having the latest and the greatest. It's easy to feel that you need the newest cameras and the fanciest lighting to be taken seriously.  The hard lesson I have learned is that this stuff will eat away your profit as a photographer, and consume your creative soul. After a while you've accumulated so much gear that you need to have a studio just to store it all.  You stress about protecting your valuable equipment because it’s where you’ve invested everything that you have. At the same time, you are looking yet another upgrade and before you know it, your overhead is out of control. Trust me, I’ve been there.....

The truth is, you've got nothing if you don't have a solid concept combined with a unique moment.  You need to figure out what series of processes, gear, productions, etc. it will take you to produce the final image that people will connect with.  This process is different for every project. Make the shoot about the subject, not the stuff. If you need a special piece equipment for a project, consider renting it! This could be the perfect  opportunity to network with other photographers in your area; considering renting from another professional, or even trading favors. 

Taking your client into consideration is also important. The more time you spend unloading and staging gear, the less time you spend on your subject. Comfort on set is important as well: if your models can’t walk off set for a drink of water without fear of tripping over one of 35 cords stretched across the room, then you might be overdoing it.

One of the questions that has made me laugh over the years is “what camera will you be shooting with?”. My answer is always, "I'm going to shoot with the best camera for project." Whether it's a Hassleblad for the file size or a DSLR with video capabilities for speed and portability, I’m going to make sure that I bring exactly what I need. Nothing more, nothings less. 

The message I would like to share is this: think an image through and carefully plan for the best. This is the most efficient, most economic process to get your client to where they want to be. Bring the right gear for the job, keep the back ups in the truck and make it happen! For me, that is the best formula for success!

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