I typically work with creative teams at advertising agencies, design shops or directly with in-house marketing teams. I’m one of many key people involved in a successful photo shoot. My team consists of food and prop stylists, assistants, digital techs, producers and more depending on the job. My clients generally provide direction and then my team and I put that direction through our own creative lens to create something unique.
WHAT STEPS DID YOU TAKE TO GET TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW?
I started my career as an art director working at various ad agencies throughout Southern California. I apply all of those years of experience and visual knowledge to my photography. There are a lot of skills and design principles that translate to still life and tabletop photography. Having experienced the challenges that face my clients first hand, I’m able to communicate seamlessly and reach a solution quickly.
My focus on food and beverage stems from growing up in my large Italian family's restaurant. My passion for food started young and continued after I left home, working in restaurant kitchens throughout college. My proximity to food and food culture gives me the ability to tell the stories and capture the emotions behind the photos that I make.
How do you stand out in your field??
I see a lot of photographers that exist in a vacuum who make work for themselves, not really knowing or understanding their clients needs. Commercial photographers do need to have a unique approach and style, however they should be tailoring their portfolio for a specific audience.
As unsexy as it sounds, interpersonal communication skills and the ability to remove yourself and your ego from a project is key. A true pro understands that photography, at least commercial photography, is a team sport and it takes a village. If a photographer is unwilling to compromise because they think they “know better” than their client, they won’t be working with that client again.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON RIGHT NOW?
I’m always trying to balance a mix of shooting, marketing, outreach and testing.
WHAT'S YOUR STYLE/PERSPECTIVE/TASTE? DO YOU HAVE A PROJECT THAT REPRESENTS THIS?
I’m always trying to achieve a natural, lived-in feel in my work. At the end of the day I want my images to have appetite appeal. I achieve that by breaking down a dish or meal then determine what makes it desirable and emphasize that.
To get there I still approach things as a designer, I’ve created a framework and process that’s second nature at this point. From a technical standpoint I’m thinking about light, color harmonies, styling and the atmosphere that they create.
WE ARE ALL SLASHIES WITH MULTIPLE SKILLS, WHICH ONE DO YOU WISH YOU COULD DO MORE OFTEN?
Outside of continuing to build out my portfolio with food and beverage work. I’d really like to explore architectural and interior photography. I’ve always been interested in architecture and interiors design and I feel that my graphic approach would lend itself to that type of work. In the larger markets (like LA) it’s hard to be a multi-hyphenate photographer. You’re encouraged to stay in your lane but I personally believe that getting outside of your comfort zone pushes you to become more well rounded.
WHAT IS FRUSTRATING YOU RIGHT NOW?
This business is a constant cycle of finding clients, reaching out, bidding jobs and shooting. It can be frustrating at times to finish a shoot and go right back into outreach/marketing mode. I’d love to sit in the studio and do test shoots, experiment and make work for myself but that’s not how it works.
IF YOU COULD HIRE SOMEONE FOR $20/HR, WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE THEM DO TO MAKE YOUR DAY EASIER?
Admin work. It’s my least favorite part of owning a business.
LET'S BRING OUT THE TIME MACHINE. WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU COULD HAVE TOLD YOURSELF, WHEN, AND WHY?
When I first started shooting I used to ask myself why it took so long to take the leap into full-time photography. I told myself for a long time that I didn't have a big enough portfolio or enough experience to do this full time. However, the experience and knowledge I gained as an art director is invaluable today. I’m going to give a cliche non-answer here. I don’t think lessons are learned by anyone telling you anything, you have to come to your own conclusions based off of experience.
IF YOU COULD TALK TO AN EXPERT TO GAIN MORE INSIGHT ON SOMETHING, WHAT WOULD IT BE ABOUT?
I’m always interested in the process of photo editors and art buyers. They are the gatekeepers between me and creative teams a lot of the time. Knowing how they approach their searches for photographers and what they look for is invaluable. I read Rob Haggarts blog to gain insights but I’d love to dive deeper with an expert in person.
WHAT KIND OF OPPORTUNITIES/PROJECTS ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?
I’m looking to work on all projects related to food and beverage. I work with agencies, publishers and in-house marketing departments in studios and on location all over the world. Outside of my core business I’d like to explore shooting architecture and interiors.
DESCRIBE YOUR IDEAL JOB/CLIENT/COLLABORATION.
My ideal client has a solid marketing/strategy team, a passionate art director and a budget big enough to do the job properly. I’m always looking to work with talented creatives who are pushing themselves. I really enjoy assembling a team that makes sense for the direction the client has provided.
WHAT IS YOUR HOURLY RATE, RETAINER, OR SALARY RANGE?
Every project is different. The determining factors are, the number of days/shots, usage (where the images are going to be used), hard costs (stylists, studio time, equipment, travel, etc.)
I’m happy to put together quotes.
HOW SHOULD SOMEONE APPROACH YOU ABOUT WORKING TOGETHER?
Generally I get on the phone with a potential client and ask them the following questions before I send out bid.
1. What is your budget?
2. How many shots do you need? (I average around 7 per day, depending on the concepts)
3. Do you have food or prop stylists in mind? (If not, I have a bunch I can recommend depending on the job)
4. Where is the shoot? (I generally need some lead time to book a studio)
5. How will you use the images?
6. Retouching. (Agencies sometimes request unedited files, most of my clients want me to edit which is an added cost)
7. When do you need the final files?
8. File Delivery
* Formats (JPGs, TIFFs, RGB, CMYK)
* How do you want the files delivered? (On a drive, in the cloud)
HOW DO YOU STAY CREATIVE?
Keep my eyes open and test.
This member profile was originally published in May 2018.