How to manage the job?
Having established the needs of the job – the creative possibilities as well as the specified layout, content, and approach – you can get down to planning. If you are working in the studio, what are the most appropriate accessories to include?
Will some form of setting need building or hiring? If it is a location job the right place has to be found and hired if necessary. Models can be shortlisted through an agency, interviewed, and chosen; some photographers use their own selected models, often people they just meet on the street, and occasionally their friends. Assistants may well be required to work the lighting, find the locations or look after the models. A stylist will also be required, particularly for fashion or food shoots: stylists are rarely acknowledged but have played a major role in commercial and fashion photography history.
Lighting has to be planned. If you have to rely on natural light, consult weather forecasts for your location. Existing artificial light needs checking for its technical suitability. Tungsten
or flash-lighting units, and special equipment such as a wind machine, smoke machine, or portable generator, may have to be hired. If you are shooting on film choose the most appropriate stock – color or black and white, negative or transparency (transparency is rarely used today).
On the day of your shoot, with all the necessary items brought together, you can start to build and work with your set and subjects to create the images you will finally use. There are numerous aspects that you will need to consider playing with and altering as you work: viewpoint, lighting, framing, the relationship between subjects, how to highlight one thing in the frame, and how all these technical aspects can affect the actual meaning of the image.
Working digitally on a commercial shoot is highly advantageous as the images can be checked and revised constantly. Photographers working with film will use a digital back or separate camera to check the results before shooting on film. Later one roll or sheet of film typical of the shot will be test-processed, and then the remainder put through, giving any modifications suggested by those first results.
Working as a commercial photographer is demanding and you need to be continuously investing in both updating your portfolio as well as taking it around to show art directors, designers, and picture editors regularly. You may need/want to use assistants and you will find it useful to be connected with professional organizations like the Association of Photographers (AOP) in London which give support and advice to photographers.
There are a wealth of design groups and advertising agencies in particular who are always on the lookout for new talent. Numerous photo libraries will hold your photographs on file and promote them to a range of commercial users at a designated price. The library would ask for a particular number of photographs, and themes vary according to the library; they will also take a percentage of the sale.