I used to work in a large car parts factory and up until around 2000 it employed two full time professional photographers who mostly did product shots (they also did corporate portrait stuff). They worked with large and medium format cameras and had a dedicated lab on-site, they produced good work. After 2000 the factory went through some restructuring and the place was bought by a US firm. The two pros lost their jobs, the lab equipment and cameras went and in their place came a Sony Digital camera than took 3.5" floppies which was used by whoever had a spare 5 minutes. The photos were crap, but no one seemed to care. Very depressing. If I was considering breaking into product photography, my first task would be to see if product photography still exists as a dedicated profession.
listen to greg ... he knows ... !
Originally Posted by Greg Davis
This is not a quick and easy profession to break in to.
First you have to learn how to photograph the products which you wish to specialize in . Hit the streets, knock on every door of every professional photographer who probably does product work and ask to become an assistant. By the way, thee are not interested in what you have done, they will teach you their way. Once you get such an apprentice position expect to spend a minimum of 3-5 years there. By the way, they pay little or nothing. Then you MAY know enough and have enough skill to strike out on your own.
Good Luck - you will need lots of it!
[FONT=Comic Sans MS]Films NOT Dead - Just getting fixed![/FONT]
It's sure sad
It's sure sad to hear about what happened. I'm sure there will always be a need for high quality product photos. I think it's just a matter of being persistent and flexible. I still think assisting is one route to getting into the business. Lets face it, the world is changing, and photographers have to change with it. I wouldn't discourage anybody from giving it a try. I assisted for years and tried to make a go of it shooting tabletop product shots. Where I settled had little opportunities for product work. I figured I had to do something else. Besides assisting, I'd also recommend building a portfolio of product shots for the day when the assistant becomes a full fledged photographer. I wish him luck.
Originally Posted by perkeleellinen
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Learn all you can about lighting.
Then go to step 2.
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2
You do not show your location - I would say location has become important in the current economy. In the US that would be New York or California.
Here in Michigan, commercial photographers have been for the last few years leaving the state to find work. Most work in the Detroit area has been
centered around car shoots. They don't shoot cars anymore - they use CGI. The big car stages in the area have either found another use for their
facility or gone bankrupt. Most have gone bankrupt.
BTW - almost all commercial work is digi - the clients have designed their publishing workflow around it.
"I always take a camera, That way I never have to say 'Gee, look at that - I wish I had a camera'" -Joe Clark, H.B.S.S.
Practice, practice, practice. Get good. Sell your services repeatedly. (In that order.)
I would start by putting the camera down and simply learning to manipulate light exactly and precisely in a controlled environment. I would also explore general artistic theory:composition, design, and color. The camera is the least of your worries. The technical considerations involved with the camera are nothing compared to all the other skills that will make or break you. A monkey can operate a camera if given enough time and practice. It takes a technician to do this. Easy. It takes an artist to control light, though. That is the hard part, and that is what you need to get really good at to be a successful product photographer.
You have to start somewhere. Just find any paying jobs that you can. If you are really good, work will lead to more work.
This is one area where I do not think assisting would really benefit you...unless you steal all of your boss' good clients in the end. Sounds silly, but you need to work really intimately and closely by yourself to practice this type of shooting IMHO. You are not going to learn a whole lot by moving the lights and carrying stuff for a product shooter the way I see it. It just needs tons of personal time and effort spent on practicing with light, which you will not get assisting.
FWIW, I did do this for a while. It was great fun, and I was pretty decent at it in almost no time. The pay sucked, though. I was a staffer for a small business, not a freelancer. I worked in the same spot every day. It had its good and its bad points, but I would say being freelance would probably be a lot preferable in the end. More money, more variety, more challenging.
Last edited by 2F/2F; 02-24-2011 at 10:00 PM. Click to view previous post history.
"Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."
- Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)
A client is looking for a photographer and provides them with a few details about what they want, then asks them for an estimate cost of the job. The client will then chooses the lowest cost that gives them what they want, similar to a building contractor. So if they accept your estimate and offer you the job, then you do it at the rate you told them. It is very bad business to come back and say "the job cost more than expected, so cough up more cash." So learning how to provide the proper estimate amount to complete the job is important.
Originally Posted by Steve Smith
For example, if I am asked to provide an estimate for a job for an architecture firm to provide a spherical panorama of the hotel lobby they just built, then I would give them a list of expenses (insurance only, since I own the equipment and don't need an assistant for that) and hourly rate of $100/hr. It takes an hour to set up and shoot, and then ties up my computer for 4 hours to process, so 5 billable hours plus insurance for my equipment and liability should someone trip over my camera bag and sue me.
Oh wait, I see what you did there... except/accept. Good catch.