If you’re a photographer thinking about getting into the advertising market, you may have your work cut out for you; competition is stiff in today’s digital world. But if you have what it takes—and that doesn’t just mean raw talent—you can make a name for yourself in the high profile industry.
As commercial advertising photographer Erik Almas says, if advertising photography is where your heart is, then it’s time to get to work and start marketing yourself:
Almas has traveled the world shooting ads for clients such as Toyota, Puma, Nike, Hyatt, USPS, Citibank, and Amtrak. Years ago, he started out in sports photography, but while at school, he became interested in creative portraiture. While he specializes in advertising photography now, he also works in landscape, fashion, and portraits.
“I’m always attracted to a quiet sense of beauty… There’s an openness, there’s an expansiveness to it, definitely a romantic part to it, not very controversial in my work; I’m not one that seeks out disharmony.”
Almas, who is from Norway, thought he would finish school in the States, go back home and work for a local newspaper shooting sporting events, but he says he was sucked into photography. Some amazing teachers helped him understand the art of photography, and he became addicted.
When it comes to traveling to a new location to shoot a commercial or ad, Erik tries to get a sense of the place to find his vision for each concept. He often finds inspiration in the place and the local people. He asks himself what the place feels like to him–what does it remind him of? Then he says he begins to absorb those things and emotions well up. Some of the questions he asks himself:
Is it inspiring? Is it new? Is it intimidating? Is it soulful? Is it scary? Then he takes the emotion and applies it to the picture.
Erik Almas’s Marketing Tips
- Educate yourself enough to start the marketing process.
- Identify who your client is and find a way to reach them (one easy way is through email blasts).
- Don’t wait two years or until you have a good portfolio; send them one picture now.
The idea that is generally taught is that as a new photographer, you take pictures, build a portfolio, and then start marketing yourself. But, Erik realized this is a waste of time. He now says that as soon as you have one good picture, you should put it out there and start building a marketing presence to cut down on years spent trying to get yourself noticed.
And, the most important thing to succeed in advertising photography is to shoot what you are drawn to, something you’re excited about. Shoot your own style, something that you really resonate with. If not, you won’t be good at it. You won’t care for it enough for it to be honest.
“A lot of people take amazing pictures, but very few are smart about their marketing.”