PRO CASE STUDY
Professional product photography specialist Mark Colliton (MARKCOLLITON.COM) explains the challenges and rewards of the industry HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN TAKING PRODUCT IMAGES PROFESSIONALLY?
I came to photography a bit later in my creative career than is perhaps typical. At university I studied maths, but I also had creative interests in art and film that weren’t being met. I changed direction and gained experience in graphic design, which soon led to specialising as a photographic retoucher.
Being on shoots as a digital operator really sparked my desire to pursue a career as a commercial product photographer. For me training was all on the job, assisting and then freelancing in-house for large companies. For the past six years I’ve been running my own studio, now based in Wandsworth, London.
WHAT ARE THE COMMON CHALLENGES ASSOCIATED WITH MEETING A CLIENT BRIEF?
Establishing clear communication with the client well in advance of the shoot is essential. It’s important to ensure that everyone is on the same page in terms of the desired results, especially when taking on a new client.
Sometimes initial enquiries and briefs can be vague in terms of product details and shot list, so requesting full details plus reference imagery and mood boards for creative direction is advisable. Once you know what to expect, you can provide an accurate estimate, turnaround time and agree payment terms.
Also ensure that the client understands the role of post-production and retouch, which requires both time and added expense.
HOW DO YOU REMAIN COMPETITIVE IN THE PRODUCT PHOTOGRAPHY MARKET?
Be good and be seen. Get experience, find your niche and work at it. An attractive and easy-to-use website with good SEO is essential to showcase your work and encourage potential clients to get in touch. At the higher end of the industry, photographic agents can play an effective role in attracting and negotiating contracts, although this isn’t essential. I’d also add that it’s important to stay motivated so that you can always perform at your best – taking occasional time out from it all will usually do you good.
Top rightCOSMETICS Mark believes that simplicity is very effective in commercial product photography, as long as lighting and composition are complementary
Bottom rightDIESEL COLOGNE Mark advises taking time out of your usual work schedule to allow you the opportunity to experiment with different styles and techniques