Exposure Doesn’t Pay Bills
Commercial photographers and directors walk a fine line between genius and masochist. They seamlessly handle a variety of tasks and skills. Their skillset includes:
- Point-of-view: a distinct eye; unique storytelling; clear artistic voice.
- Technical: proficient in cameras + lenses, lighting, grip + electric, computers, software, image file management, processing, and post-production technology.
- Communications: handling client, crew, talent, and support services.
- Economic / Finance: must understand money.
- Management: managing crew, clients, agent or representation, production budgets, contracts, negotiation, and usage rights.
- Administration: running a business; basic accounting, bookkeeping, site maintenance, insurance, payroll, etc
- Marketing + Self Promotion
- Educator: educate clients on basic production costs, protocol, and processes.
- Responsive + flexible: must receive, respond to, and/or defend creative criticism or conflict.
That’s a lot of skills to master in a single profession. Simultaneously, they’re being approached by for-profit businesses to work for free (non-profit work is at the discretion of the photographer). In my experience, shooters don’t like saying “No.” They want to help. They want to take EVERY job that will increase exposure, but taking time away from their long list of behind the scenes job duties can actually cost them money.
I admire all of the commercial photographers and directors out there. Their perseverance and tact handling business while keeping the creative wheels turning is a rare talent.