One of my favorite aspects of photography — or any field these days, really — is that you can be hired simply because you’ve put your work on the internet and taken care of your SEO needs. Someone thusly finds your site and decides to bring you in.
Jami Clayman gets multiple potential jobs a month simply because she pays attention to her SEO and is always on the ball with it. In one instance, an Austin-based producer found Jami through Google and hired her to shoot still images alongside a TV commercial shoot for Pizza Hut.
Texas opened up to business in June after the mandated quarantine due to COVID-19. I was contacted by Revelator producer Todd Ruhnau to shoot commercial stills during a contactless pickup TV commercial shoot for Pizza Hut in North Texas. Revelator is an Austin-based video production company. Since they didn’t have photographer contacts in Dallas, he found me through a Google search.
My natural lighting and posing in my lifestyle photography portfolio matched the director’s visual style, so the producer felt I was a good match for the shoot. Todd also liked that my lifestyle photography looked real and unposed, and that the lighting in several galleries looked natural and bright. It fit the creative brief approved by Pizza Hut for the commercial.
Now, when a photographer has to shoot alongside a film crew, they usually have to follow someone else’s lead, taking a look at a pre-determined shot list and making sure their work matches the look and feel of the footage. That takes time, making it imperative to work efficiently. How did Jami go about doing that? By using the same lighting setup as the film crew.
Due to the quick nature of the production, I was given a bulleted list of written requests from the brand for the day. I also followed the framing and content being captured on film so my stills would match the television spots. I brought my own lights, but when I arrived, I spoke with the Director of Photography to see if I could work with his lighting set ups and crew immediately after he was finished.
It helped speed up the day — there wouldn’t have been anyway I could have moved as quickly as needed with just me and my assistant. It really helped that he and the director were open to sharing their crew and live monitor.
With so many moving parts — and because COVID puts an inherent time crunch on anything where people are together in public — Jami couldn’t go to the client to confirm each shot as good to go in the moment. Thus, the Dallas-based photographer had to shoot as much as she possibly could and let the client sift through it all. And although Jami’s GIF work did not make the final edit, that didn’t stop her from putting together a few.
Even though I was tethered on set, there wasn’t time for client approval for all shots. I ended up shooting through the action so the creative team could later decide what types of expressions, hand placement, and body language they preferred for the stills.
Even though the stills were not used as GIFs by the brand, I created GIFs to place on my website to help tell the visual story.
The agency executed all post for the images, which were used repeatedly on Facebook and Instagram while the commercials aired on television and social media.
A hectic summer day ended up as a rousing success for Jami and everyone else involved. Not only did she get the images needed; she did so efficiently and without getting in anyone’s way. It doesn’t hurt that Jami is very familiar with production crews and knows where and where not to be accordingly.
It helped that this was a style that I would naturally shoot, so I could confidently make decisions for the brand. We were on a short timeline, but by keeping myself informed of the creative decisions, framing, and video action for the actors I was able to quickly make decisions without needing immediate review. I am also familiar with how production crews work and could anticipate where I could or couldn’t stand. It just helped the day flow.
See more of Jami’s work at jamiclayman.com.
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