Dreaming big is never a bad thing for a photographer. The more imaginative your ideas, the easier it is to stand out amongst your peers. Yet there is often a very real, and very high price tag associated with grand productions. Producing personal projects that you’re passionate about is vital for many photographers in the fashion industry. However, it can be frustrating to lack the funds necessary to bring your vision to life for more ambitious projects. Fortunately, there are many options available to photographers to help them bring that production to life, without breaking the bank in the process.
Previously, I discussed the importance of building a creative team, because they are the backbone of your work as a fashion or commercial photographer. Surrounding yourself with creative individuals who possess similar goals to your own can truly help to pave your way on that path. You never know what opportunities your team members could unlock for you.
One such example of this is the photoshoot pictured in this article. My wardrobe stylist and I had wanted to do a menswear story about a secret agent, with luxury and lifestyle aspects to the editorial. One day while she was jogging, she knocked on the door of a mansion that was on her route, and simply asked the owner if she could take photographs in their front courtyard. They agreed to do so, and a meeting was requested with myself, the stylist, and the owner to confirm the details of the shoot.
You will often hear about doing work "for trade," and often these instances can carry with them negative connotations. In the world of photography, bartering can often be an incredible tool for achieving your goals without having to forfeit tangible funds. I do believe that one should only barter when there is something to be gained on both sides, so ensure that your time and effort is well-spent.
In the case of this editorial, the owner ran a luxury car detailing and lifestyle company, and wanted to use the model we had cast for the story in a commercial for their company. While normally bartering tends to be with means that are personally provided by you, as the photographer, I still reached out to the model regarding the opportunity. It was decided to be a good opportunity for him as a model, and he agreed to be in it.
Because of my team’s contributions to this production, we were not only able to shoot in the front of the house, but within all of it. Not only this, but the owner graciously allowed for us to photograph the model inside and in front of their newly customized Rolls Royce Ghost, which elevated the production to a whole new level.
Whenever you set out to shoot a new editorial or a personal project, put together a simple spreadsheet that breaks down the cost of the production. Certain line items should be travel costs, equipment costs, props, retouching costs, catering costs, and any other items that will come out of your pocket for the production.
Setting a budget for yourself, and then comparing what the actual costs are in comparison to that number, is vital to the success of your personal projects and marketing efforts. The wardrobe stylist had taken on the role of creative director for the story, and had a few props that were needed for the editorial. Knowing that my budget for props was minimal, I partnered with my stylist and reached out to friends and family for the three necessary items: a replica gun, binoculars, and martini glasses. My father had a replica gun available for our use, the stylist provided the binoculars, and we were able to find martini glasses at a local thrift store for fifty cents each.
Because I was able to save on the props and wardrobe, I was able to invest more into having the images retouched, as well as cater food for my team.
Maintain the Relationship
The most important thing to do when leveraging connections, and the wonderful opportunities they provide, is maintaining a healthy relationship with them. Ensure that whatever expectations were set are adhered to. No one ever wants to feel like they were taken advantage of, especially when it comes to bartering. Follow up with those involved and thank them for everything they contributed, as well as deliver on every promise you made with them. Doing so will not only improve your own reputation, but make it that much easier to leverage those resources again for future endeavors.
When you're planning your next big production, sit down and consider what resources may be at your disposal. From contacts you have already made, to those that you could reach out to personally. There are a lot of options out there to help make your vision a reality. Consider local businesses that could provide you with necessary items or services for your shoot, and what you can offer them in return. Making the conscious decision to step outside of your comfort zone with confidence and professionalism can unlock many doors, you just have to try it.
Team Credits - Photographer: Kendra Paige | Creative Director & Stylist: Alyssa Blanco | Location & Rolls Royce: Prominent Status | Watch: IWC Schaffhausen | Model: Marcos Mejia of Elite Miami | Grooming: Madeline Rouge | Retoucher: Svetlana Pasechnik | Assistants: Chris Brodsky & Monica C Baker