Week #4 – Making the Exceptional Portrait

You are being commissioned to photograph creative for a magazine cover and editorial spread. The subject is being profiled and the images will be used in the main spread that will run 3-4 pages. The editor is calling for a submission of 10-12 images including a vertical portrait for a possible cover. This concept-driven shoot will be based on an idea that is developed by the photographer in collaboration with the subject and should reflect not only some of the person’s personality, work and personal style. An image that would be suitable for a cover would be culled from the shoot and the image should be composed to accommodate the banner and slugs. The images can capture some aspect of the person’s work, but also aspects of the home life, family, pets, or other interests. An image that showcases their workspace and home space are ideal.

The editor is looking for images that move beyond the cliche  photograph, especially for the cover. They want something special that reveals the personality of the subject. “Make photographs that would inspire the viewer to pick up the magazine”

Find out as much as you can about the artist and see how you can come up with a concept that is reflective of that knowledge. You don’t just have to photograph them at their home, it could be at a location which fits your vision.

For the cover, I want the photographer to take visual inspiration from something other than another photograph/photographer. It can be paintings, sculpture, music, etc. This should play a big part in your presentation next week.

Each team will be provided contact information with each author to coordinate the details of the shoot and the concept. The photographer will need to negotiate the terms of usage of the images both for the photographer and the artist. The artist may desire some restrictions. These terms should be reflected in the model release. In consideration of the time that each subject is providing the team, the person should receive a selection of images for use for their self promotion.

The production might include a stylist, hair and make-up person depending on the concept of the shoot.

If the team is unable to coordinate with the person that they are initially connected with, the DRM should contact the instructor to arrange for another subject to be provided for them.

The budget for the shoot is $750 plus expenses for production expenses. If the image is good enough for the cover the photographer would be able to receive an additional $250. The license is first time usage right for print and web with a 1 year embargo. JPEGs should be delivered via Dropbox by February 15th at 6pm.

Due Next Week:

  • Draft of production book
  • Presentation by team on the editorial shoot.
  • E-mail instructor a photograph that you’ve made that you feel is “exceptional” along with an image of the same type that would aspire to. Email to the working photographer e-mail by February 15th. Resolution should be 72 dpi with dimension of 1500 dpi on the longer side.



Week #3 – Estimate and Negotiation

Due Next Week:

  • Be prepared as a team to present your images and give a presentation on your work on the project.
  • Bring a complete and bound copy of your production book for the instructor. The production book should include a delivery memo, final invoice, copies of the model releases and a written assessment by the DRM on the overall performance of the team and individuals on the assignment. (I will send you a format for the eval in a couple of days).
  • Upload the images for the assignment by February  1st at 8  pm. The images should be jpegs. No Tiffs or PSD files..
  • Carefully review the criteria for the assignment from the previous post to ensure that you have met all the demands of the assignment.


Week 1 – Introductions

Welcome to the Working Photographer II course. This webpage will be your main resource page for the class. It will contain all the details for your group and personal assignments. Make sure to read these carefully before beginning and submitting an assignment for the class.

This site will also contain other resources such as tutorials, reading materials which may be assigned to you in class to serve as a point of discussion.

Team Assignment #1 – Street Fashion Portraits

This assignment calls on you to produce 20 photographs of strangers who exhibit a sense of unique style and sensibility. Targeting a specific community is strongly suggested (e.g. a specific music scene, activity or profession) The images will be shot at a location of the team’s choosing in the Los Angeles area which they believe will provide them access to a quantity and a diversity of people to fulfill the requirements of the shoot. (If you believe a permit is required for this assignment, you should apply for one thru the FilmLA office.

The photographs can be produced using any medium (HDSLR, Medium Format, film). However the image must be presented as digital files and delivered to the instructor using a Dropbox account.

The image must use a combination of ambient light and strobe/flash with the artificial light serving as the keylight rather than simply a fill. The images also have to show a strong awareness and control of the background either by the choice of placement of the subject or use of a backdrop.The technical challenge you have to resolve is how to able to control the ambient light, while using flash/strobe as the main light.

The requirement to fulfill the assignment will be as follows:

  • 20 photographs of subject who are unknown to the photographic team at a location somewhere in Los Angeles county.
    The photographers fee for the assignment is $500 + expenditures.
  • The usage and license for first time editorial use for both print and web. There is a 6-month embargo and the secondary sales and use of the images.
  • Use name name and the school address for the contact information for the client.
    The images should fall in line with the photographer’s unique style and vision and should not just mimic other photographer’s work or style.
  • The subjects should be chosen not only on personal style but a sensibility that exists within a certain community of people (e.g. K-Pop, skaters, punks, seniors, etc) Be prepared to explain this during the initial and final presentation.
  • Model releases must be obtained for each subject. The model releases should include some identifier to indicate which photo is associated with what model release.
  • Each images must be lit using a combination of ambient light and strobe/flash using whatever light modifiers deemed appropriate. Remember, that the strobe need to be the dominant light source for these portraits.
  • Images must be delivered to the instructor via a Dropbox account by Sunday, February 2nd at 8 pm. If images are submitted after this deadline the assignment will be downgraded one full grade point.
  • A production book will include all the items detailed during Day 1 of the course which include the cover sheet, call sheet, estimate, etc. (copies of the Model releases, permits that may be required for the complete assignment can be presented with the final production book with 2 weeks).
  • The licensing terms for the use of the images should be stipulated in the estimate and invoice. For this assignment, you will be providing my license for the use of the images for 1 year for web use.
  • The production book should be bound in a sleeve or folder. Submitting loose leaf pages which are not bound will result in a decrease of 1/2 grade on the 1st presentation and 1 full grade on the final presentation of the assignment.
    All team members must participate in all phases of the shoot, which includes being present on the day of production.

Reading Material

Street Portrait Examples

Personal Projects Examples


Due in 2 Weeks:

  • A draft of the production book with copies for the instructor and the 3 other teams.
  • A team presentation of the overall vision of the shoot with each individual describing their duties and roles for the team assignment.
  • Test shots of that represents the look and feel of the images you intend to produce for the assignment.

Due in 3 Weeks:

  • Be prepared as a team to present your images and give a presentation on your work on the project.
  • Bring a complete and bound copy of your production book for the instructor. The production book should include a delivery memo, final invoice, and a written assessment by the DRM on the overall performance of the team and individuals on the assignment.
  • Upload the images for the assignment by Sunday, February 2nd at 8 pm

Week #13 – Wrapping UP

  • Upload the video to the Vimeo account used for the previous assignment.
  • Please include a credit title at the beginning or end identifying the members of the team involved in its production
  • A copy of the production bible (excluding invoice).

Personal Project

  • Bring a printed magazine or book  of your final assignment. (Loose prints are not acceptable for the final)
  • Provide me a PDF version of the layout of the book.

Week 12 – Final Multimedia Assignment

For your final assignment, you will be working on a multimedia assignment which consists of video, audio & stills. The concept around the project is “character”. You are to choose a subject (person, place or group), which explores some aspect of the idea of character. You are looking for a subject matter that will provide you strong visuals. You want to produce a piece that is interesting visually as per the examples that I showed you in class. The multimedia piece should be can be 2 – 4 minutes long and will be uploaded to Vimeo by December 7th at 6pm.

By this time, you should have completed work on your personal project and should be prepared to print a hard copy of your final project in the form of book, zine or other printed format. A PDF copy should be prepared to be sent to me by the last class session.

Due Monday:

Presentation of concept for final project.


Week 11 – The Art of Editing & Sequencing

Hopefully, the exercise that we did today for editing and sequencing will be helpful to you. I want you to to apply the approach to your personal project so that you can begin editing and producing your final project, which for most of you will be a printed manifestation of your work (a book, zine, etc). Remember, you will be producing a hard copy for yourself and a PDF version for me. So, at this point, you should be wrapping up producing images for your personal projects and begin the processing of editing and designing your final product. If you are behind in producing images, this is the week to ramp it up. The more images you have to work with the better the editing process will be.

As we discussed with the team project, it’s important to have a clear vision of your work that can be communicated with your team as well as the talent and the outside crew. This will inform your collaboration with them as well as better prepare you for the day of the shoot. You want to avoid as many surprises as possible.

Due by Monday

  • Images are to be uploaded to the instructor (Due 6pm on November 23rd).
  • Bound and signed production book




Week 10 – Cosmetic Commercial Assignment

For this assignment, we continue to explore the world of commercial/advertising photography. For this, we take it up a level as we will have you come up with a concept for the shoot as well as an estimate based on the criteria listed below.

The client is a cosmetics manufacturer who is coming out with a line of products (lipstick, base, mascara, etc) that is targeting the real woman. This means that they are targeting a market that is sort of the antithesis of the “Revlon” tradition of heavily manipulated images of women, which verges on the surreal. This new line of product is for women who strive for beauty but a beauty with a more natural and “real” aesthetic.

The products are produced with the theme of the 4 elements (fire, water, air and earth). They went a series of 4 glamour photographs that tap into each of those 4 elements. The have come up with a rough concept that consists of 4 head/shoulder portraits. More than just a photograph of a pretty girl, they want a photographer who can take the idea of of natural elements and come up with a series of images that really make a great leap of the imagination. The want images that remind women of their natural beauty and how the product can bring this out. They are also looking for images that tie into the idea of those basic elements and reminds customers what differentiates their products from those of their major label competitors.

They are not a major player in the cosmetic industry but that are a growing company that is targeting a youthful niche. Their budgets are not as huge as compared to the major manufacturers, but they nevertheless hope to be competitive in the particular market that they are pursuing. So, they are looking for photographers that are not only affordable, but that can provide them a big bang for their buck. They want the best photographer that they can afford. So, take this into consideration when coming up with your numbers.

Your estimate should reflect the creation of four images (though you will only be producing one image for the class presentation). However, we need to see a a concept for the entire series of images. So as part of your assignment, please take the time to produce a presentation that showcases not just the individual photographer, but all four.

Remember to this presentation as a pitch in which you are trying to sell the client on the your team’s ability to deliver an exceptional project.

The four images would be used for a national advertising composing that is intended to run for a minimum of year. The ads will run over several publications with average prints run of 200,000. In total, the print runs will likely range between 3 – 5 million.   The client is asking for a complete buyout for the image, but as always, you want to build elements into your estimate that would allow you room for negotiation.

You are competing with other photographers for this bid and so you will likely be competing on price to some degree.

This assignment is due in two week with image uploaded to the client by Sunday, November 23 at 6pm.

Final Note: For this assignment I want you to work with a make-up and a stylist to help take the work to a another level and to get the insight and experience of someone outside of your group. Please be prepared to share information on these people as part of your presentation for this week. 

Due Next Week

  • Presentation for commercial gig with detailed estimate. (To prepare for your presentation have clear numbers for the cost of production (equipment, crew, studio, etc), licensing, and photographer/creative fee. What is the profit margin for the job based on your initial estimate? What is your point of negotiation based on price? Licensing terms? Be prepared to offer a counter to what I will propose to you during your presentation.
  • 20 – 30 4×6 prints from your personal project or existing body of work (4×6 individual prints only).