The simplicity of these photos does not convey the difficulties of this shoot – or how easy it was for us to overcome those challenges. We are experienced photographers and even with the 95 degree Atlanta summer – we didn’t break a sweat.

Last July we were hired by Ogilvy & Mather to photograph six subjects for the High Museum of Art‘s Fall ad campaign.

Three years ago when we picked up our cameras we never even dreamed of the above sentence happening. We didn’t go to school for this, we didn’t know anyone, and we didn’t have the slightest idea on how one would ever be hired by a major ad agency for any gig large or small. Now I know – there are lots of commercial photographers out there that have done this over and over for much larger campaigns and much larger clients. But hey – we’re just Leah and Mark. We photograph weddings and family portraits.

Of course we do run the largest photography internship in the country and we photograph weddings all over these United States. In our short three years we went from starting our business to shooting almost 30 weddings this year, running our photobooth business, a ridiculous internship with 10 interns every 3 months, oh – and BabyRoX joined us because he didn’t think we were too busy 😉

We’ve dabbled with a few commercial gigs but nothing as substantial as this – so when we received the email from Ogilvy we jumped up and down. And then freaked out because we weren’t sure about what we should quote them. Obviously we wanted the gig no matter what. But we also knew that we couldn’t just low ball them with the rates that we’ve been charging local small businesses for their website photos. We had to ask for a respectable number – one that a ‘Professional’ would charge… right? Yeah. So after about 30 minutes of figuring that out – we sent in the quote and eventually got the gig.

You might already know this – but often times it takes A LOT OF WORK to make a simple looking photo. These are simple looking photos – and that’s great because considering all of the work it took to make them – they came out really great and the finished product looks exactly like how it was envisioned from the beginning. Of course – this was a very new and different experience for me – but because we’ve trained ourselves over the years – everything was easy. The creative team from Ogilvy & Mather did their job – and me and my team did our job to help complete their vision.

Of course we did meet beforehand and went over the specs and concepts and over all feel and look of the campaign.

If you know me or have read this blog for a while – then you know that one of my greatest fears used to be that I would be presented with a great opportunity (beautiful location, awesome setup, once in a lifetime whatever) – and that I wouldn’t have the skills to make the most of it. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be good enough and that I would waste the shots.

I don’t worry about such things anymore – and I haven’t for a long time.

Again – these photos are deceptively simple. I tell the Interns that everything we shoot is training (even if many of them have no idea what they might be learning) – and that’s why we shoot so often and so many different types of subjects/events. Light conditions, changing light conditions, props, framing, composition, angles, space for the type/words, proper angles to avoid distortion, proper angles to accentuate distortion, and then knowing how to DIRECT ANY SUBJECT – with confidence – it’s all stuff we’ve learned over the years.

Often times it seems like I’ve just faked it ’til I made it -  well honestly – I generally disagree. Yes. I do step up to the plate with an over abundant level of confidence and bravado – but I’m not faking anything. And I say that only because I know how much we’ve put into our photography and our own education. For us – making photos is like seeing and breathing. We work really fast because we blink and we see a photo to be made. We don’t need to put the viewfinder to our face and we don’t ever ask should we take this photo? We’re always preparing and practicing for some unknown shoot in the future.

There were several key moments and problems that I was able to solve during this project because I solved them ON PRACTICE SHOOTS during my first year, three years ago. Back when I would shoot 6 different models in two hour blocks over the course of 8 hours on a Saturday – and the Saturdays after that for several months. Not only that – but I’m pretty sure that no one even noticed the problem or that I solved it – exactly how you want the client to experience working with you. (Well sometimes you DO want them to see you fixing major problems that were caused by someone else.)

I’m proud of these photos for their deceptive simplicity and the fact that it’s a REAL AD CAMPAIGN! (with billboards around town.)

But I’m also very proud of us as a business – because we have some ridiculously big plans for the next few months and next year. It’s a great thing to be able to say that is more than just Leah or Mark.


2 Replies to “Commercial Photographer | The High Museum of Art

  1. Very proud of you, our friends, and your accomplishments. Continued blessings to you! Congratulations on beautiful work.

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