The Unsung Heroes of Commercial Photography

Written by Loud Kitchen LLC 

More often than not, the photographer gets all the credit when we see a fabulous image in an ad, website or book.

The truth though, especially in Commercial Photography, is most of the great images we see cannot be accomplished by just the photographer alone.

Image by Sebastian Siah, Shooting Gallery Asia

Right from the moment a job is commissioned until the final image is delivered, we photographers rely on a team of experienced supporting professionals to make our job as safe and smooth as possible. In short, they work their magic so that we can work ours.

So who are these people and what do they do? Here’s an (almost) definitive list of our supporting professionals and the roles they play:

Producer:

  • Discuss production needs with client
  • Sourcing and acquiring all resources and permits for the job
  • Coordinate workflow between photographers and agency producers and traffic
  • Ensure all resources and information is available prior and during the shoot
  • Ensure all supporting professionals and talents are ready and on time for the shoot

Production Assistant:

  • Assists the producer in all areas
  • Required to be on hand during the shoot

Hair Stylist:

  • In charge of creating hairstyles for talents
  • Required to be on hand during the shoot

Make-up Artist:

  • In charge of putting on make-up for talents
  • Required to be on hand during the shoot

Food Stylist:

  • In charge of arranging and garnishing food
  • In charge of creating food related props
  • Creates food replicas for some shoots, e.g. ice cream
  • Usually required to attend pre-production meetings
  • Required to be on hand during the shoot

Fashion Stylist:

  • Coordinates the wardrobe with the client
  • Fitting of wardrobe for talents
  • Acquire wardrobe for the shoot
  • Usually required to attend pre-production meetings
  • Required to be on hand during the shoot

Wardrobe Assistant:

  • Assists the fashion stylist
  • May be required to be on hand during the shoot

Location Manager:

  • Sources and scouts locations for shoot
  • Coordinate with location owners for permits, eg. Home owners, building management, government bodies, etc.
  • May be required to be on hand during the shoot

Casting Director:

  • In charge of acquiring appropriate talents for shoot
  • Liaises with modelling and talent agencies, artiste representatives
  • In charge of street casting for new talents
  • Organises casting shoots for client pre-selection
  • May be required to attend pre-production meetings
Photo by Aaron Ang, Loud Kitchen

Prop-master:

  • In charge of acquiring props and items required for the shoot, excluding wardrobe items
  • Coordinates props with producers, set builders, photographers and clients.

Set-builder:

  • Builds the sets required for a shoot
  • May liaise with 3rdparty companies, eg. Carpenters, interior designers, etc, to build the set.
  • In charge of breaking the set after shoot

Pyro-technician:

  • In charge of providing and creating explosive or combustible special effects for shoots
  • Liaises with producers and photographers

Photographer’s Assistants:

  • In charge of setting up camera, digital* and lighting equipment under the photographer’s direction
  • Assist the photographer in all aspects of camera work
  • Ensures the reliability of equipment and availability of backup systems during the shoot
  • Ensures general safety of persons and equipment on the set
  • Assists in any other areas of work as required during the shoot
  • In charge of equipment maintenance and studio upkeep
  • May operate solo or in a team as the job requires
  • On large scale shoots, the photographer’s assistant’s team may be divided into smaller teams as camera, digital and lighting assistants to take charge of their respective areas.

Digital Imaging Artist:

  • In charge of post-production retouching of images
  • Takes direction from the photographer and client
  • In charge of delivering the final image in the correct file format and media as required by the client
  • May be required to attend pre-production meetings as well as the actual shoot
  • Sometimes also take on the additional role as a colourist, doing color grading work on the images to achieve a certain “feel” that’s inline with the creative directions given.
  • Retail shops specialising in producing prints from digital or film media
  • Produces basic enlargements and framing in a variety of sizes

Photo Finishing Labs/Specialists:

  • Retailers or professionals specialising in producing enlargements with special requirements, eg. Canvas prints
  • Able to provide darkroom services for special print effects, eg. Burning and dodging
  • Able to produce non-standard print sizes
  • Able to produce very high quality, gallery standard professional prints and frames

We hope this has helped you understand the world of Commercial Photography a little better.

If you want to learn more, or are planning to become a Professional Photographer, we can help you on your journey. Join Us!