May 4, 2020

Roth and Ramberg-About Photography XIV


Dale Roth is one half of the photography duo, Roth and Ramberg. As writing is not his strong suit, he has asked his teenage son to correct his lack of punctuation and when possible, add in big words. However, Dale does know how to do a perfect scheimpflug.)

The Creative Process

We’ve had the pleasure of working with some talented creatives over the years. They create ideas for their clients and it is up to us to execute those ideas. Nowadays in photography, just about any idea can come to life. If you need and elephant sitting on a couch, given money and time it can be done.

We recently had a conversation with a client of ours who produces a podcast. He invited us to join in on a session soon and the conversation naturally led to what things people might be interested in hearing us talk about. One of the topics we came up with had to do with advertising agencies and whether we could offer some insight into how things work better from our end when we are hired by them. Due to recent events the podcast is on hold, but it got us thinking what things would help the creative process run smoothly.

First up is knowledge. Knowledge is king! The more we understand the idea and concept, the better the image we can produce. If you can send us samples of the type of photo or feel you are looking for then we can alter the lightning, the subjects, etc. to accommodate the vision. Also any layout with text is super helpful, we can shoot with your layout overtop of the photo to make sure it suits your needs.

Next, it is important to understand the costs or the limits. If your idea incorporates summer and it’s winter, then something has to give. We can spend hours flying somewhere that has green grass and trees or we can spend hours doing photoshop. I remember an instance before the luxury of photoshop when we had to shoot some golfers in the winter. It was around zero degrees and the models were dressed in their summer golf attire. They had to hold their breath between shots so the puff of warm breath against the cold air didn’t show up in the photograph. The result ended up being fine, but it wasn’t perfect. If you want perfect it sometimes cost money.

Banner Ads. We know for sure the inventor of the banner ad was certainly not a photographer, and more than likely not a creative. Ads that have to run banner and vertical are trouble. If you are shooting people then it causes grief as you have pull the camera back far enough to have the photograph work both horizontally and vertically. Usually being so far away from the subject causes the photos to become watered down lose the emotion that comes with being close and intimate. If you can avoid the banner and vertical, picking one is best.

Cropping is key. When photographing people, if the shot requires being close and personal, moving back just a few inches changes the photo. It loses its magic. Usually we have to move back because of copy. Good copy can make an ad great, bad copy or too much usually kills it. If you can be flexible with the copy and shoot to size then it makes for a better image. We can also take a few photos side to side and up and down in case the cropping changes. That way we get the best shot and have options in case things change.

A lot of times we have to take photos where the art director is worried what the client will think.“Let’s do it with and without glasses, let’s try with a dark shirt instead.” Again knowledge, is key and we understand the need to make the client happy, we have to get to the point where we can collaborate and make the decision about what to put in the photo. Between our experience and the art directors experience there is usually one way that is almost always better. You need to empower your creative person to make those decisions in real time.

Time. Ah, there’s the rub. The more time we have to execute an idea the better it will be. The more time we have to photoshop the better it will be. The more time you let us know that something may be heading our way the better the photo will be. Everything has gotten quick and instant and if we all can just step back a little and convince the client that if they can give us more time there will be a better result.

Hire the right people. A hair and makeup person, a stylist and a producer will all make a good photo great. If you have the models wearing the right clothes, in the right location with the right props it works smoothly. I usually think if I don’t notice the hair and makeup and clothing then they all have done a good job. 

Weather matters. We have to be able to postpone outdoor shoots if the weather is not great. Also, generally speaking, early morning or late evening is the best time for an outdoor shoot. In summer that could mean 4 AM up until 11 PM. Sometimes it takes getting up early and staying up late in order to get the perfect photo. We are always eager to do what is best and happy to give input.

Although not always possible, bringing us in the early stages of where the concept is heading and the types of photos you are looking for we may be able to enhance the final product. We are always on the lookout for new photo lighting, photoshop techniques. Sometimes a simple lens change makes a difference in the final outcome. If we can be there in the beginning to guide it photographically I think the end results will always be better.

I’m sure there are more suggestions and ideas to share with creatives. It would also be informative to know what we can do better on our end. As we all know, by working together and using our skills, we make for great work.

Go forth and create!