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Mandate - - Photography -

Com­mer­cial photography is a sought af­ter and re­ward­ing pro­fes­sion. Un­for­tu­nately, most peo­ple want to take up this pro­fes­sion, just be­cause they think it makes them look cooler. How­ever, soon they get a re­al­ity check, and they ven­ture into some other busi­ness. So, in or­der to be a suc­cess­ful pho­tog­ra­pher, you got to be pas­sion­ate about photography, that’s where it all starts. And yes, there’s no time guar­an­tee. You should be pre­pared to strug­gle your way out.

Ac­tu­ally speak­ing, photography it­self is a com­bi­na­tion of art and science. But com­mer­cial photography also in­volves an­other very im­por­tant vari­able i.e. busi­ness. To­day, it’s per­haps the most im­por­tant fac­tor. You should be able to mar­ket your­self and in­vest in re­la­tion­ship man­age­ment. And once you mas­ter this rather tricky com­bi­na­tion it is a re­ward­ing life long ca­reer that prom­ises adventure, fame, money and an en­vi­able life (some­times).

At this mo­ment, many would sug­gest you work as an as­sis­tant to a suc­cess­ful pho­tog­ra­pher. But that ap­proach could take years to learn the ropes. So it’s al­ways bet­ter to learn ba­sic photography in col­leges and work­shops at a mod­est fee. In fact, I have just re­cently col­lab­o­rated with Hin­dus­tan Uni­ver­sity in Chen­nai, to launch a photography col­lege—HITS Academy of Photography.

What­ever genre of photography you choose to work in, the foun­da­tions re­main the same. That is why it is im­por­tant to get a sound knowl­edge of the ba­sics. A good un­der­stand­ing of shut­ter speeds, depth of field, light­ing and com­po­si­tion are the ba­sic tools you need to make (or break) a pho­to­graph.

Karthik Srini­vas, the brand am­bas­sador for Sony Al­pha Cam­era se­ries, ex­plains a thing or two about pro­fes­sional photography.

Once you have mas­tered th­ese, the pho­to­graphic world is at your com­mand. And to­day, dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy has made the learn­ing process faster—you no longer have to wait for neg­a­tives to be de­vel­oped to check­out your own work. So it be­comes con­ve­nient to plan and cre­ate a port­fo­lio and pitch for work. You just have to be sure about your field.


Ad­ver­tis­ing photography is prob­a­bly the most popular genre with pho­tog­ra­phers, be­cause work­ing with an ad­ver­tis­ing agency means work­ing with other cre­ative peo­ple who know ex­actly what they want from a shoot. The pho­tog­ra­pher is of­ten in­cluded in the plan­ning and con­cep­tual stages of the shoot. Meet­ings are held, cre­ative briefs are given, mock shoots and draw­ings are sent across the board. The pho­tog­ra­pher has a voice in all of th­ese stages, and he is also in­stru­men­tal in se­lect­ing the right mod­els for the job. And on the day of the shoot, the pho­tog­ra­pher is of course the cap­tain of the ship! You need to su­per­vise and ap­prove the hair styling, make up, set, props and so on.

With dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy now play­ing a ma­jor role in ev­ery as­pect of photography, ad­ver­tis­ing shoots are some­times planned, keep­ing dig­i­tal ma­nip­u­la­tion in mind. This does not mean that photography is al­ways en­hanced us­ing dig­i­tal tech­niques, it means that the bound­aries of what we can por­tray through a pho­to­graph have ex­panded. Take for ex­am­ple dream-like images, or pho­to­graphs that show lev­i­ta­tion or flota­tion—dig­i­tal makes this pos­si­ble. So, when an art direc­tor or a pho­tog­ra­pher is con­cep­tu­al­is­ing a shoot to­day, his cre­ativ­ity is only limited by his own imag­i­na­tion, not by tech­nol­ogy!


Shoot­ing celebri­ties is as glam­orous as it can get. They are al­ready used to be­ing pho­tographed, so you get the right feel and the right poses with ease. The chal­lenge here can be the time frame—some­times you get only a few min­utes to shoot a celebrity, and you don’t get a sec­ond chance to get the light­ing right! When a group shot is re­quired, it is even more dif­fi­cult to get mul­ti­ple celebri­ties at the same time, so we end up shoot­ing them in­di­vid­u­ally and then com­bine the images to make one fi­nal pho­to­graph.


Fash­ion photography is the dream of many an as­pir­ing pho­tog­ra­pher! No doubt that fash­ion photography has a cer­tain aura of style and pop­u­lar­ity at­tached to it, but there is so much more to it than that. Fash­ion photography is all about two cre­ative minds com­ing to­gether to ex­press a mes­sage though the gar­ments and through the images. The fash­ion designer and you, both need to see eye to eye on what the de­sign is try­ing to con­vey, and the images that you make need to be in line with it. The re­ward­ing as­pect of fash­ion photography is the fact that it is an end to end cre­ative process, and you are con­stantly work­ing with other cre­ative peo­ple who know their job.


Prod­uct photography is a joy to work on, be­cause you can usu­ally work at your own pace, give the ut­most at­ten­tion to de­tail, and you can get your per­fect shot. Shoot­ing watches, jew­els, and other table­top sub­jects is a spe­cialised field in it­self, which de­mands an at­ten­tion for de­tail that only a trained eye can per­ceive. When shoot­ing prod­ucts, the pho­tog­ra­pher has to have a good knowl­edge of white bal­ance con­trol, es­pe­cially where gar­ments are con­cerned. When prod­ucts are de­picted in brochures, cat­a­logues or web pages, the color tone needs to ex­actly and ac­cu­rately match the prod­uct.

So, there is prac­ti­cally some­thing for every­body where the gen­res of photography are con­cerned. Some may not be very com­fort­able work­ing with peo­ple, which elim­i­nates the op­tion of por­trai­ture or fash­ion, but then there are al­ways other gen­res of com­mer­cial photography such as prod­uct or cat­a­logue photography, in­te­ri­ors, au­to­mo­bile photography…the list goes on. So, if photography is your call­ing, pick your cat­e­gory care­fully.

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