Color & Light
Meeting Photo Challenges
Creative Image Processing
Nature & Outdoor
Creating Better Photographics
Night & Low Light Photography
Light & Exposure
Close-Up & Macro
Digital Black & White
Color & Design
Choosing & Using Lenses
Digital Photography Equipment
The Joy of Discovery; Jerry Garns’ Approach to Commercial Photography:
On His Own
“Photography is reward enough, and money is just icing on the cake,”
he says. “It’s not about the money, it’s about the gratification
that the end product brings to me.” Garns also relies on dependable assistants.
“You’ve got to work with people who are good, and who you trust.
I couldn’t do this alone,” he says. An intern currently works with
him, as well as one full-time studio manager, both of whom will eventually move
on to their own photography businesses, he says.
When he’s on location, he always brings his Macintosh G4 PowerBook, has a G4 and G5 dual processor in the studio, and uses Photoshop, “of course.” For scanning film, he uses an Imacon Flextight II. When Garns started his career, he points out, there were no computers in the photographic world. “New tools broaden our creative knowledge,” he says.
Thinking of Becoming a Commercial Shooter?
Advice From a Successful Commercial Photographer
1. Particularly because of the way commercial photography is headed today, he says, it’s imperative that you become digitally educated. “You need to know scanners, digital cameras, and Photoshop.”
2. Light is critical, Garns emphasizes. “Every day, you must become aware of light and develop the ability to use that light to fulfill your vision. Photography is all about light!”
3. For Garns, the process of discovery is a motivating factor. “The driving force in my business is my love for the process of discovery,” he declares on his Website. “Producing new images continually provides opportunities for me to develop a new vision, a deeper understanding, and a more meaningful way of relating to the world around me.” He says that for him, it’s the creative process that’s important, not only the end result. “It’s discovering something new, perhaps seeing something in a new light.” If you’re doing photography just for the money, he notes, your work won’t reflect the same passion as it does when you love what you do.
4. To become a commercial photographer, you must decide it’s the only option. “If you don’t, you’ll resort to something easier. You really have to want this, perhaps a lot more than some people would think.”
5. Although people can become workaholics, Garns emphasizes that “You must also have a life—perhaps a hobby or a family—because you need to bring something to your work, a vision that’s unique. This vision must come through in your images, otherwise they’ll look the same as everyone else’s.”
6. Commercial photographers show their work to art directors and other professionals, who constantly judge their images. For this reason, Garns says, this business is not for defensive people. “You must be open to criticism and input.” To be successful in the world of commercial photography, he adds, you need to be willing to work with others as a team player. You must take criticism as a positive and incorporate changes to your photography. “Help the job evolve into something that works!”
7. There’s more to photography than lenses, film, and technical knowledge—“That’s a given,” says Garns. Other issues come into play when running a commercial business, such as working as a team to complete a project successfully.
8. “You must be able to exude confidence,” he advises. “Clients need to believe in you; they have a lot of money on the line. And your photo subjects want to be assured that you’ll make them look good.”
9. Don’t give up! Garns stresses the fact that you must persist in your goals through the tough times, as well as the easy ones. This may be obvious, but very true.
10. To be successful as a commercial photographer, you must surround yourself with great people—“Assistants, stylists, and anyone else you need on a given job.”
To see more of Jerry Garns’ images, visit www.jerrygarns.com.
To order back issues (Volumes 3,5,6,7,9, 10, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 and 20)
Hone your skills with fast-paced tutorials and easy-to-follow tips from the archives of PHOTOgraphic and eDigitalPhoto magazines.