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How to Assemble a Team

Lesson 20 from: Business of Commercial Food Photography

Andrew Scrivani

How to Assemble a Team

Lesson 20 from: Business of Commercial Food Photography

Andrew Scrivani

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Lesson Info

20. How to Assemble a Team

Next Lesson: The Production Team


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


How To Get Work As A Food Photographer


Understanding Your Skill Level and Your Market


How To Grow Your Business


Opportunities In Commercial Food Photography


How Do You Market Yourself


The Importance of Attitude and Communication


Understanding Insurance Responsibilities and Liability


Lesson Info

How to Assemble a Team

One of the first things I want to do today is talk about, yesterday we talked about what the agency or client team looks like and what our responsibilities are in responding to that dynamic. Today what we're going to talk about is the flip side of that, and it's what is our team look like? What does assembling that team look like, and what are those relationships, how do they grow, how do they find those relationships and what is it that team is expected to do once we get on set? And then what we're going to do later is I'm going to show you that in action, in real life. So real life, is this real life? So the first thing is one of the things you have to understand as an artist in these venues is that you are a collaborator. Now you may be in charge of that collaboration, but the partnership is what really makes it great. And you talk about a solo artist, the person who that quote is from is Cristo. I don't know if you know who Cristo was, but he was the guy who did those large scale i...

nstallations all over the world, and he'd think about, he conceptualized these enormous projects, but think about how many people it took to execute them. And it's a great way to kind of wrap your head around the idea of food photography is basically three dimensional art, but also the idea that it takes three to five separate artists working collaboratively to make it work. A prop stylist, a food stylist, possibly a chef, you as the photographer, a retoucher. All these people have their own art and are going to be in need of a collaborative leader in a project. So when we're talking about being the leader of that project you have to also kind of be the coach in a way, and I speak a lot in sports speak because that was my background but I'm a firm believer and if you're in charge of a team as a coach or a manager or whatever it might be in a sport, and the weakest link on your team isn't getting the attention that they need, the person who has the most needs or the object or the subject that requires the most need, well then the entire team kind of fails around it so the idea of rallying people around a common theme or a common goal is the way I approach my sets. Now that may not necessarily be the way everybody in our business approaches their work, but clearly I've always had a better result when I have embraced my team, we kind of get together, I don't do a lot of high fiving or anything like that. I'm not a rah rah guy, but I do spend time communicating very clearly with a lot of other people. So it's important, and it's also important when you are the most experienced person on your set to be a teacher, and having a teaching background and having a component to my career that has to do with teaching makes me more willing and it's more of a natural kind of engagement for me to be a teacher on set. So it requires patience and again we'll go back to communication. A lot, a lot of communication because if you shut down, people don't know what to do and I had a couple of conversations with some of you in the audience over the last couple of days and how you all felt comfortable and communicating with me, and I want that to be the thing that I project is that I'm approachable because I'm teaching you something. That this is not an us and them relationship and it has to be that way on your set as well. You have to, it has to be that they look to you for leadership and you are able to provide leadership and those things are very important, so with that said, your dream team and this would be pieces and parts of this may happen on different occasions on a shoot, but this would be the full blown team. We'll go through everybody who you might end up having on your set or on your team when you're making a, when you're putting together a photoshoot. And then sometimes you may not have all of these people, but you definitely will have some of them. So the first person on a big shoot for you, now on your team is your producer and we talked about the producer being somebody that has a counterpart on the other side. So we're going to talk about the differences between those people. Then we have an art director. Quite possibly an art director on your team. Now it depends on the size of your production or your production company, and whether or not you have an art director or a creative director on staff or it's somebody that is sort of a creative partner for you. So for me to have my creative partner who is not handling camera on set and doesn't necessarily have a distinct role, I would consider her my art director pretty much throughout my career. You know having Su Jong as my creative director and my compatriot in doing all these things is that we've collaboratively set the tone for our photoshoots for a very long time. Now when you have your cooks on set, now those people might very well be responsible to the food stylist, so sometimes the food stylist comes in with their own people, their assistants. I'll call them cooks just for clarity, but they are people you still have to interact with and they appreciate the interaction. So it's something that you have to be aware of, and we'll talk a little bit more about that as well. Your stylists clearly are people that you need to communicate with before, during, and maybe even after the shoot to kind of have a recap and that's another concept that I want to talk about a little bit is the idea of doing a recap at the end of a shoot to discuss what went well and what didn't, and I often have these kinds of meetings with my staff, especially when something doesn't go the way I want it to go and we talk about what we could have done better. So we can discuss what that looks like as well. Your tech support, and that could be both your camera assistant and your digital tech and we're going to have both of those people roles being played on set today and you'll see what those people do and how I communicate with them and your assistants, and those assistants can range from camera and all the other people who are assisting the production from the person who's running out for the Americanos. They're just as important because if we are not caffeinated we are not happy. And then of course your photo editor retoucher at the back end of the production is very important and we'll talk about all the things that that person does in their role. Okay, your art department. Now this is an interesting concept because on the highest levels of advertising and photography you have people who are considered your art department so I'll give you an example. We were in a job that, well you know what? Let me get to this and then I'm going to click through all of these a little bit better. Production assistants, again these are the people who are sort of the assistants to the assistants, and they're supporting the assistants. So if, everything runs downhill. I have a request, I make it to my assistant, that assistant might make it to a PA, that PA runs out and gets me some gaffers tape that gets back to the set, or something to that effect.

Ratings and Reviews


I highly recommend this course! Andrew is an engaging and thoroughly knowledgable teacher. This class is less about how to photograph food - although there are some terrific tips - and more about the "nuts and bolts" or rather, "bread and butter" of running a successful business. A lot of the information is relevant to business in general, but the specific tips about food photography are especially exciting to implement! I found the hands-on portion during the morning of day 2 especially helpful in assimilating the general or more abstract ideas covered in day 1, which laid a fantastic foundation. 5 stars!

Amy Vaughn

While I'm not quite ready to focus my business on food photography, this class gave me a much clearer idea of what options and challenges there are in the food photography industry. Andrew covered everything from what jobs might be like when starting out on a tight budget to what options open up as the photographer becomes more experienced and successful. I already did my own internet research about the food photography business before the class, but this was more comprehensive and easy to understand in a short amount of time. Now I feel more confident about setting my business goals, who to look for to collaborate with on projects and eventually the kinds of clients I'd like to work with. He also gave many tips that are immediately applicable in my current photography business that isn't yet focused on food.

Delaney Brown

Andrew is not only a funny, incredibly entertaining person, he's a seriously great teacher. Being in the live studio audience for this class was such a treat. I was able to learn a lot of the nitty gritty lived-in details of what it takes to be a successful food photographer. Things that are hard to come by in books and online! I would highly recommend this class for anyone who wants to take their passion to the next step: making a living.

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