Capturing the Essence of your Client’s Vision

A successful commercial photographer needs to capture the essence of a client’s vision. The ability to pull out of a client precisely what they have in mind, and craft images that tells their story is an art unto itself.


Having the ability to truly understand the emotion that your client has for their product, service, location, or even the atmosphere that is projected in the space or event you’re photographing is critical to achieving those killer shots.

At a recent shoot for a regular flooring manufacturer customer of mine, I used the following process to help me capture the essence of their vision.



The Vision. What am I going to shoot and what emotion do I want to evoke from the final image? I ask the client what their vision is for a particular shot, and then just listen. Once I start to get a sense of what they’re trying to project, I paraphrase this back to them to make sure they know I understand exactly what it is they are looking for. If they have a hard time telling me want they want, or simply don’t know, I ask them what feeling the image needs to project. Using descriptors such as mood, lightness, up close and personal, still life, natural movement, wide angle, and so on helps them. Understanding the feeling an image must have is crucial to the next steps.




Composition. Using my client’s vision I now have to figure out how to frame the subject. Will I shoot it straight on, from above, below, close up, further away, will props be used to compliment the subject, and which lens will help me achieve the best shot. It is important to do this while also keeping the basic guidelines of photographic composition in mind. More on this subject in a future blog entitled “Composition guidelines in photography and why they work”




Lighting. Once the image is composed I consider how to light the scene. There are multiple ways to light an image. Will it be ambient light, strobes, or a combination of the two? I determine what the white balance of the image will be, cooler, warmer, or do I set my camera to auto white balancing. Lighting and white balance can change the mood of an image more than any other technique. Carefully listening to my client’s vision at the beginning helps me to decide on the best lighting to use. I often shoot using a range of lighting techniques while the camera is on a tripod and then during post processing choose the best shots to combine into the final image.


Camera Settings. Depending on the lighting conditions used I consider how to best set up ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. I always shoot in manual mode and set my aperture where I want it to be as I mostly photograph still objects and scenes. I change my shutter speeds often to fit my needs.


Post Processing. Reviewing all of the shots, I keep in mind the client’s vision, and choose the images in each sequence that I will use for the final images. A combination of usually 3 or more photos, but sometimes as many as a dozen, are chosen to craft one final image. Each image must pass my critical eye for technical perfection while maintaining the essence of the client’s vision.




The Final Result. Exactly what the client had in mind. Subtle lighting changes with a feeling of movement, and evoking a classy appearance.

Carsten Arnold