Research your Client and your Brief

As I work on various photography projects, all of them require research, some are more or less extensive, before I embark fully into my work. I typically start my research with outlining what exactly is required of me to produce. This may involve detailed discussions with my client, but sometimes the information about the project can be very vague. I need to know what is the client looking for, what vision they have for the project, what is the purpose of the produced materials and what time frame is the client looking for.

I divide my research into two stages. If this is an existing client, my work is easier. I already know their style, their needs, their habits, their preferences. This makes work on a project easier for me.

With a new client, it is different. A very detailed research is very important for both sides. From a client’s perspective, I want to ensure that I will deliver what they are asking for. From my perspective, I need to decide whether this project is suitable for me. And yes, this is crucial for me. I have to have a passion for the project, otherwise it is not going to work.

Steve Jobs by Diana Walker (2014)

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” – Steve Jobs

My first stage focuses on the client and their need. My focus is on finding out as much about the client, their background, vision, history, their connection to the project (why this particular project, why at this time – what drove this project to be produced). It is also very important to me know where and how the produced work will be used. I typically start with internet and social media. I found these channels often lead me to other resources (print publications, past events, sometimes even past clients or mutual contacts that connect the client and myself).

Once I have more ideas what the client wants, I then I research more. Working on a project is about giving the client my vision of what they are looking for. This vision requires my interest in the project, the subject or the cause, and any background information that will elevate my skills to match the client’s need.

I mainly photograph sports and events and these photography genres provide plenty opportunities and variety of channels to continuously expand my knowledge of photography in general as well as my skills. My research methods include looking at contemporary and historical sports and portraiture photographers.

Shelley Lipton gallery of images

I want to see the differences in their work and I like to look for that “special something” that makes their work unique. I also try to understand why they have an interest in photographing this particular aspect of sport/person. Having a keen interest in American football (this is the sport I mainly photograph), I follow the NFL as well as media coverage pertaining to sporting events, discussions and news.

I also explore other art media such as film and sports documentaries, magazines, art and cultural displays. These other media help me learn more about the subject matter. They also expand my knowledge about sports history and social and cultural issues impacting sports globally. This overall makes me a better photographer, a better story teller, a better person.

Remember the Titans (2000)

Occasionally I participate in projects that are very different from the work I am accustomed to. I like to get out of that comfort zone I create around myself. Such projects challenge me and give me that feeling of venturing into the unknown territory; that mix of excitement and a bit of anxiety related to pushing myself further.

Recently I have decided to participate in a project provided through a collaboration between our MA program at Falmouth and CityID, an agency connecting people, places and movement through wayfinding solutions. This is a great opportunity for me to venture into a different type of project and work together with my cohorts to explore the vision of American Dream through use of personal vehicles.