How to Collaborate With an Art Director in Photography
In most situations, a photo shoot involves the collaboration of the photographer, the make-up artist, and the model. In the advertising world however, it’s the art director in photography who tells what to do, what to show, and the direction that everyone should go for. This individual is also responsible for the kind of images and visual styles, which are often, used in newspapers, magazines, product packaging, and even media productions.
Art directors usually work in a variety of industries, and aside from working with photographers, they also work with design staffs from different kinds of agencies and organizations. They are required to understand the design elements of a project, inspire creativity from the staff they work with, and keep projects in check with regards to budget and time. Knowing how art directors work will help you a lot when you collaborate on a project. While they have a lot of responsibilities, projects are not a one-man job – your skills as a photographer, will be needed to create stunning images.
Since they have a lot of control over a project, chances are, they’re also the ones who will look for someone who will take pictures in a shoot. If you’re goal, as a photographer, is to enter the advertising industry, here are some of the things that an art director in photography looks for in a photographer.
- You Solve Problems
We probably mentioned in our previous guide that photographers are most likely to be considered as problem solvers. While studio shoots are easier to deal with since you will definitely have access to all equipments in the shoot, it’s going to be a different environment if you’re going to work outdoors.
In outdoor shoots, equipments are pretty limited – of course, you won’t be able to fit all of your studio equipments in a truck! If you’re a good problem solver, you will be able to face any situation that might cause problems in the photo shoot. If you can deliver what the art director wants with lesser equipments, it just means that you have great problem-solving skills, which is useful if you want to continue working with them.
- Master of Light
Great photographers are masters of light manipulation. If you don’t know how to work with one or two lighting set-ups, you might need to study a bit more if you want to work as a photographer in fashion and advertising. As a photographer, you must know there is not photography without light. It’s a must to master light to be able to create images that art directors want to have.
- Be in Control
Lots of things could go wrong in any kind of photo shoot. Missing equipments, the need of extra assistants, and more – all these things won’t be a problem if you are in control of every situation. Do you have extra set of batteries? Have you prepared backups for cable equipments? Do you have backup cameras just in case your primary cameras get busted in the shoot? Have you reached out to your staff about the project preparations? Being prepared for the unexpected is very important, especially if the project is under time constraints.
- Know Your Gear
This is not the best time to try out your new gear. If you’re going to work with an art director, you’ll have to be able to change equipment settings on the fly. You have to understand that time is at the essence in this line of photography work. Always remember that everyone is counting on you to give well composed, properly exposed, and in-focus photos, without spending too much time on tinkering with your gear.
- Let Your Creativity Work
Most of the time, the art director in photography will tell you what an image should look like. However, this doesn’t mean that you don’t have to be creative in the process. You can always take ideas from the art director and try to give what is asked. The question is – can you be creative enough to make images look even better? What can you bring to the table that no one in the photo shoot could bring?
- Be Responsible
Do what you promised your art direction in the shoot. If you can’t keep track of the preparations in a big photoshoot, such as hiring models, stylists, location scouts, and RVs, get a production manager who will. Aside from being a great photographer for the project, being responsible will definitely make the job easier for everyone.
- Your Personality Counts
Everyone has that experience of working with someone with a bad personality – someone who makes simple tasks hard, or someone who doesn’t know what respect means. You may be the best photographer in the world, but your personality is going to be your best asset. You should be able to make your subjects relax, and create a fun environment as you work with others. The last thing you want to do is to make your models feel uncomfortable, and drive everyone crazy with your attitude.
- Always on Time
Art directors are critical when it comes to time management – they start photo shoots on time, they end it on time. If you want an art director to like working with you, you’ve got to be always on time. Of course, the shoot won’t start without you and causing delays leave an impression that you’re not up to the task. Ease up on late night parties, get enough rest, and if possible, set two alarms so you don’t cause problems in the shoot.
- Love Your Job
Photographers often have motivations in turning images into a piece of art. The love for making things pretty for example, is something that drives most of them. Why do you do photography? Are you just getting into it because of the money? If you do, you might want to try a different career. Most of the time, creations are just mere replicas of how creators feel – shallow motivations, in photography, create shallow images. Love what you do, and money will definitely follow!
Before you try to look for advertising work, the best you can do is to prepare your portfolio. Choosing images that an art director in photography often wants to see in portfolios is a daunting task for many, but you can get some insights if you have them critiqued by one. Most of the time, art directors look for emotions in images – this is what they often go for in photo shoots. Try to use images that spark ideas or emotions in the audience. Another thing that you should remember in preparing your portfolio is composition – while tight images are great for portraits, most images used in advertising and shot in wide, allowing more flexibility for text placements and overall design perspective.
Working with art directors can be quite challenging, and we hope this guide helps you along the way. If you want to get the latest tips in photography, don’t forget to subscribe to our blog. You can also reach us in our contact page here.