Commercial Photography ~ Rules and Knowing When to Bend Them

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Every business has rules and they serve great purpose – in promoting predictability, which in turn fosters security, reliability – so rules are productive, necessary even. However with some businesses rules need not be so steadfast, for example say in commercial photography. Sure, there’s the standard set of rules to adhere to i.e. for websites where photos need to be sharp, in focus and have an interesting composition – and even then there’s room for some rule-breaking and perhaps new rule-making. As a photographer it all depends on what you’re trying to achieve, which ultimately becomes about portraying your client and their business in the best light possible.

Golden Rule No. 1 – Build a profile on your client and what it is their business is about.

Golden Rule No. 2 – Find the right angle that will best sell them and their business online be it for website or social media.

Brief Example:

Client: Yoga Instructor.

Product: Yoga Classes.

Decide Photoshoot Location: (Interior) Studio, Oldcastle, Co. Meath or (Exterior) Home residence, White Lake, Oldcastle, Co. Meath.

Product Benefits to Customer (yoga classes): Promotes balance (mental & physical), harmony in the body, calmness/stillness, relieves stress, grounding etc.

Decision: (Exterior) Home residence by the lake.

Reason: Weather good on the day, acceptable light.  Scenic location.  Yoga is all about the breath so it made sense that the shoot was alfresco. The location also reflected the benefits of what the product promotes – stillness (in the water), blue skies, soft white clouds, green grass (calm colours) – and all grounded in nature.

The Rule Bend – using Warrior pose in the composition. This can be seen as a conflicting move given the product (yoga) is meant to promote harmony and be non-combative. Contrast in images are important (backdrop soft/subject angular) – but not at the cost of client and product. But before you change stance (pun intended) and ditch the offending photo, dig deeper. Research the product more, in this case, the Warrior pose. And you learn that Warrior in yoga terms means the fight with ones ignorant self (avidya) in finding inner-peace, true harmony. Making it perfect picture for both client and product.