Commercial photography tips

Painstaking practice, patience and perseverance – the three P’sfor success in commercial photography,according to Nabila Abbas, a Saudiphotographer with a degree in PhotoCommunication from the U.S. Expandingher westward reach, Nabila brings her12 years of professional success fromthe concrete oasis that is Dubai tothe pearl of the Red Sea. Along withadding new port of calls Nabila hasalso been experimenting with newmediums to add to her repertoire in thevisual arts.

As customary in rite of passage rituals,Nabila reveals the do’s & don’ts of the bizfor aspiring commercial photographersand how to set oneself apart in asaturated field.


Do learn proper lighting,take courses, and investin learning the craft ofphotography. If you are anamateur, don’t call yourselfa professionaljust by owning a camera.

Do work from the bottom up by assisting aprofessional photographer,this will help you gain thebest practice and expertisein the field.

Do buy a good kit for yourself when you arestarting, good lightingequipment, light meter,camera, tripod, lens –maybe a couple, thisdepends on what youare going to be doing, wideangle, close ups etc.

Do get to know the clients requirements. If you aredealing with the client, orcreative director in an adcompany, make sure youunderstand the brief, askas many questions as youcan. Why? Because youare going to send out aquotation, if you don’task the rightquestions, thoseanswers won’t be given toyou. Then, you have notbargained for your time,your costs might be overbudget, etc. or image usagerights.

Do find a niche in the market – find somethingthat you truly like and enjoy.


Don’t give up your rights to own anduse the work youproduce. This comes inthe contract negotiationstage of a project.

Don’t submit mediocre work. Survival in themarket is key, it’s sucha competitive marketand you have to build aclientele of repeat clients.

Don’t be late on delivery of jobs,your reputation ison the line.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with newtechniques. Have asignature style asmuchas possible.

Don’t take test shots without the client,and/or art director beingpresent. You need themto see Polaroid or digitaltest shots and sign off onthem so you can beginworking. , especially foradvertising shots.

Don’t expect overnight success. Work hard andbe ready to put inlong hours. Passion forphotography is key,but passion forexcellence will make thedifference.

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