Saturday, August 27, 2011

You Want What?

Clients can often be vague when telling you what they want. Especially when they use words like creative or edgy. That's because words like creative and edgy don't often mean the same thing to everyone.

Words like creative and edgy can mean so many different things to so many different people that any client using those words to describe their expectations of my work might as well be speaking to me in French. And I don't understand much French beyond fries, toast, and mustard!

Here's some things clients usually mean when telling me they want creative or edgy: the same they’ve wanted all along, but not quite; the same their competitors are having their photographers shoot, sometimes exactly the same or sometimes a little different.

Here's what clients rarely, if ever, mean when asking me for creative or edgy: something they've never seen before.

Problems can occur, of course, when photographers wrongly translate the words creative and edgy.

More than a few photographers will wrongly assume, i.e., when asked to produce creative or edgy work, that their clients want stylistic photos of the sort they've never seen before and the photographer has never shot before. To attempt to satisfy a client's wishes, photographers will sometimes decide to shoot in ways they have little or no experience shooting. Consequently, the most obvious difference between the photographer's new, "never seen before" work and the work they normally produce -- the work that got them the job and the work they might be best known for -- will be that their new and "not seen before" work, compared to their usual work, generally sucks.

Who wants to hand over work that sucks?

Not me.

I've found when clients relay their expectations to me using words like creative and edgy, a question-and-answer session is in both our interests.

My questions tend to be focused on narrowing down what my clients are truly looking for when they're asking me for creative or edgy. Sometimes, the process can take a fair number of questions and answers. Occasionally, I luck out and ask the right questions near the beginning of the Q&A. Doing so sometimes yields enlightening answers: answers that give me a much better idea of what my client is actually looking for when they're asking me for creative or edgy.

I remember one time a client asked me for edgy. I proceeded to ask questions designed to ferret out his idea of edgyness. You know, in terms I might actually understand. It turned out my client was looking for pics that were much like some photos he had seen in a competitor's magazine. It also turned out the images my client simply defined as edgy were photos shot from extremely low angles looking up. My client, once able to describe to me what he was specifically looking for, suddenly came up with his own description for the shots-- He began calling them "worm's eye views" of the models. BTW, I did mention to my client that, to my knowledge, worms don't have eyes but that didn't seem to matter.

Once I knew what my client was truly looking for, it was easy to shoot the edgy stuff he said he wanted. I simply got down on the floor, on my back and with my head near the model's feet, almost between her legs and, using a fairly wide focal length, shot up. That's right, Gracie. My photos were captured upside down. More edgyness, right?

While I was shooting a number of different models throughout the day, my client seemed to constantly keep one eye on me. (He was also directing a video shoot at the location we were working at.) Whenever he spied me shooting the models in my normal manner (which were images he also wanted and needed) he'd loudly call out to me, reminding me to get some of those edgy shots.

"Worm's eye view, Jimmy! Worm's eye view!" he shouted ad nauseum.

He ended up shouting it so many times that I swore if I saw a freakin' worm I'd immediately step on it and squash it right out of existence! I'll also admit there were a few times during the day, leastwise in my fairly irritated mind, when my client himself began resembling a worm; one in desperate need of squashing.

The pretty girl at the top is Joanna Angel. Obviously, it's not a "worm's eye view" of the lovely Joanna. I've already spent one day too many shooting more "worm's eye view" shots than I care to remember. Frankly, that was more than enough time spent on my back mimicking a worm with a camera. As a result, it's a less favored angle for me, although I still might sometimes shoot it. But just sometimes. Not often.

1 comment:

Rick said...

I personally like the "birds eye" view. Just sayin'.

Rick D.