Creative Coaching: Sam Carbine

Feb 22, 2018
Consulting Case StudiesPhoto Editing

Sam Carbine is a photographer located in Nashville, Tennessee who came to us looking to shift his focus from event and real estate to sports and fitness photography. He wanted to attract ad agencies and publications to take his business in a more commercial direction.

We started the Creative Coaching process by having an in-depth conversation about Sam's interests and experience. While still early in his career, Sam's website was functional and well-designed, plus his existing galleries showcased the consistency of his work. My initial goal was to help Sam generate more imagery to increase the depth and focus of his portfolio.

Some images from Sam's Sports and Fitness portfolio:

It was clear to me that Sam was hungry to kick his business into gear. It is common for new photographers to have trouble identifying a clear direction and definite style. Sam was different -- he had a clear vision of his style and ideal clients in mind, and all he needed was more real-world production and planning experience from working on commercial assignments.

Initially, Sam and I worked on identifying opportunities for self-assignments that could beef up his portfolio while providing him with useful production experience, and I presented him with a variety of scenarios that would help him build a lifestyle sports portfolio which could be marketed to athletic publications and brands.

Sam had also mentioned to me that his contact at Nashville Fit explained to him the magazine was transitioning from a quarterly to monthly publication. I encouraged him to reach out with a pitch, which they accepted. Sam was commissioned to photograph Blake Harris, The Music City Strongman, pulling an airplane across the tarmac at a local airfield.

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An alternate image of Blake Harris pulling an 18,000lb. private jet.

Our session quickly switched gears, and we focused on how to break down a shoot production into a workable process.

The magazine had already made the initial arrangements with Blake's sponsor, Nutrifitt, by securing the airplane and location. Sam was given the concept and the deadline, but the rest was up to him. Sam’s biggest concern was that since he wanted to utilize the setting sun for its dramatic lighting effect, he would have very little time to get the shot. He wanted to make sure he was well prepared, so he could get as much out of the shoot as possible.

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Strongman Blake Harris on location after finishing a 50-foot aircraft pull.

From my experience with print magazine layouts, I advised Sam to focus on telling a compelling story, and pre-visualize his images in a finished magazine layout. With that in mind, we walked through the shoot from start to finish and reviewed all of the key details and attempted to minimize the variables out of our control. This included:

  • Researching the subject’s background, photo, and motivation.
  • Scouting the location before the shoot to determine the best time of day, logistics, objects you may need to work around, background options, the direction of the sun, take test shots etc.
  • Checking the weather forecast to confirm weather conditions to pick the best day/time.
  • The need for supplemental lighting to balance the sunlight, positioning of the lights.
  • Creating a shot list and prioritizing the photos as “required” and “nice to get”.
  • Hiring an assistant and defining their role before the day of the shoot.
  • Post-processing and editing.

As we went through the planning, here are some additional questions we asked ourselves:

  • What does the athlete need to do to prepare?
  • Will there be any interaction with his coach?
  • What are the key moments that need to be captured?
  • Will there be time after the event to take more photos?

The final image in Nashville Fit Magazine.

Once all the planning was complete, Sam was ready to shoot. He successfully combined all the elements we worked through and nailed the assignment. Not only did he capture the key moment, but he was also able to provide additional photos to flesh out the narrative. Sam delivered above and beyond what the client requested and not only had his photos published in the magazine but was ultimately awarded a retainer contract to shoot for the magazine every month.

Working with Jim from Wonderful Machine and their Creative Coaching program really helped guide my energy and focus it into a direction that fit my goals to grow my photography business. He listened to my thoughts and concerns about the struggles and success that I was having from shooting, to editing and business. After reviewing and critiquing many aspects of my business, I feel far more confident in the direction that I am heading and look forward to hopefully working more with Wonderful Machine in the future.

I look forward to seeing Sam's career develop as we continue to work together!

Looking for Creative Coaching or photo editing help? Feel free to reach out!

Tags: creative coaching jim gallucci lifestyle photography nashville photo editing photo editing consulting sam carbine sports & fitness photography tennessee