What’s The Difference Between….

…a good photographer and a great photographer?

Well there are many answers to this. I guess it depends on where in the creative cog you fit. For me there are two answers, and they are based purely on my personal experiences over the last few years.

One, the speed at which the photographer works. I’ve noticed great photographers work very fast. They know what they want, and they go in for the kill. A great photographer knows when to stop. He’s taken the money shot. Job done. Why take more? If your editorial only requires 8 shots, why take 108? A good photographer may be able to achieve 4 looks in a session. A great photographer will double that, dependent in all cases on styling, hair and make up adjustments.

Two, the post edit fiasco. There’s nothing more likely to make my heart sink than a photographer who sends me a lot of post edits to choose from. Especially when they’ve got no intention of letting me have my final choices anyway (you all know who you are). Please don’t send me 900 images to pick my favourites from. If I pick a really shit picture are you going to edit it for me and put your logo on it? Not if you’re a great photographer you won’t. You see, a great photographer won’t send you that many pictures. He already knows which are the best ones.

Before I see anything, the list will have been whittled down to the final choices he or she would be happy to have his brand associated with. Then they’ll pop them over for a final check with the team players to make sure nothing’s been missed. The photographer looks for great editorial, the designer for clear images of the product and the MUA/HA needs a good clear shot of their handiwork.

We all want images that are going to be good for our brand but we all have a slightly different agenda. Hobbyists are looking for creative gratification on their level. Professionals are looking for the shot that pushes them one more step up the ladder.

I’m not down on anyone who isn’t aiming for that top rung and I’m happy to work with anyone who puts the effort into their work. We all have to start somewhere and the learning curve takes as long as it takes. But if your aspirations are to turn this into a career move, you need to be efficient, clean, quick, confident and know what you want.

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2 responses to “What’s The Difference Between….

  1. Interesting… there’ve been times I’ve been great and times I’ve been good but it’s interesting to see things from another creative team members perspective.

    I find that what I struggle with the most when working with a team i.e Styling, make-up, hair, model and then finally retoucher (or even the designer /creative director) is all the many cooks to deal with.

    It’s okay to have a plan and to want to do things a certain way before hand but on most shoot days, it’s a battle to follow the plan- people get excited and carried away and want you to shoot more and more when you think and know you’ve got the shot and then they want to review all before we leave shoot location (And end up seeing all the 400 photos in 1hr that I didn’t need to shoot).

    when you get back home, remove duplicates, out of focus images or whatever else you think doesn’t fit the brief and wouldn’t be a great shot for ones portfolio and streamline it to 50, then the other cooks start asking for the other 350 and it can really be frustrating… and then before you know it, the gas I had for the project gradually evaporates as back and forths ensue over weeks and months.

    but lesson learned lately is – The photographer has to take charge from agreed pre-production plan to shoot day to post except the work contract demands that he hands off to the creative agency or director.

    I need to work harder on being a GREAT photographer, do deliver the goods decisively, to not press the shutter until I am sure I can see it before my lens and to ensure that the post production team or one-man-band equally rises up to the occasion and fufil the brief.

    Thanks for sharing this.

    • Making a very clear plan in advance is important. We share ideas via moodboards on Pinterestwhich is a great form of visual communication for fashion shoots. And I’ve always found shoot days positive and very productive. Be clear on the day and don’t waste time on shots you don’t need. I appreciate the photographer is the one who has to do all the hard graft post shoot but I’ve usually been happy with the results. And you develop a gut instinct as to what people are good to work with and which aren’t going to produced the results every one deserves.

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