Commercial Product Photographer Danny Sahota
Interview with professionals series
Please welcome amazing still life photographer Danny Sahota!
Danny lives in England, just a few miles outside of London. He has worked in a number of creative fields but finally, he has found something he has a passion and he’s enjoying the process of the art form.
How did you get started in photography? What kind of genres were at the beginning?
I’d not start photography until later in my creative career, I wish I had, but better late than never. I had worked as a graphic designer, web designer, 3d animator and other creative jobs, a lot of software learning! but it was the old cliche of jack of all trades, master of non. Now its all about still life photography, I won’t shoot models, weddings, fashions shows, just still life. I learnt the hard way!
Could you remember your first paid work in still life or product photography? How was that?
The first job was for a vitamin company that traded on eBay, so I did a lot of white background eBay and Amazon pack-shots.
Danny, as far as I know, you have special interest in shooting watches. Why did you choose that niche?
I’ve always had a passion for watches so when I started out it was my aspiration to shoot watches and add a touch of creativity. For my own portfolio, I started to create some images which I subsequently uploaded to instagram, tagged some watch companies and that’s where the interest started. It’s worth noting though that I never set out to become a watch photographer and that’s actually not what my business is about, but shooting watches doesn’t feel like work which I think is a great position to be in. I have been fortunate enough to work with some amazing watch companies and hope that this continues as my business further develops.
Can you describe your clients? Do you know why they want your images?
My clients vary and come in all shapes and sizes from start up companies to established businesses. My guess is that they want my images because they are after affordable quality images. I receive interest from companies on an almost daily basis and not all discussions lead to paid work due to budgets, but I try and be flexible as I’m in it for the long run and my aim is to build relationships based on honesty, reliability and quality and what I find is that in return my clients remain loyal and our collaborations are smooth as I am trusted and afforded a level of freedom to be creative.
What’s your style of negotiation with clients? How do you manage difficult situations?
I’m up front with my clients as I have to manage their expectations and it is important to me that I am reliable. At the offset I try and set out a realistic timeframe and so the deadline is always the best turnaround that I can offer without compromising on quality. However, there are times when projects take a little longer due to unexpected circumstances and this is when I pull out all the stops and work longer hours, sometimes through the night and if necesary re-negotiate deadlines which I try and do at the earliest opportunity so that the client isn’t inconvienced. Again, I have some very good relationships with my clients so this hasn’t been a problem so far. On the flip side, I am always happy to accomodate some last minute requests from clients so I guess it works both ways!
Is marketing important for modern photographers? What’s your favorite media channels to be noticed and get new clients?
I have spent zero on marketing so far and have no plans to change this. Most businesses/self starters are using social media to source resources and probably 70% of my clients have come through Instagram. There are other platforms that are available and for anyone starting out it depends on what they feel comfortable using. I was never a social media person prior to joining Instagram but now its a vital tool for business development. I did spend money on a website and some business cards, but for now certain social platforms serve my purpose.
Which qualities in your opinion should have photographer to be successful?
Attention to detail, creativity, persistence and some broad shoulders!
Danny, please tell about your work space. What are your favorite tools and why?
I work from a purpose built studio near my home which is great for work life balance. My favourite tools are my camera, lighting, diffusers and clamps and of course Photoshop!
How do you keep yourself motivated, Danny?
I strive to become better at my art and grow my business, so keeping the end in mind keeps me motivated.
What could you advise for those who just starting in professional photography field?
Choose an area to focus on and persist. When I first started out in photography I wasn’t thinking products, I was thinking portraits, occasions, fashion etc. but I soon realised that products suited the type of person that I am. Its all about taking time, studying detail and retaking shoots sometimes over and over again until I achieve the perfect shot (not always possible with humans!) On a side note before I found still life photography, I worked as a graphic designer, web designer, graphic artist, 3D animator/builder in simple words jack of all trades, master of non. Hopefully in coming future years I could come close to the word called master! So focus on a area and work at it over and over again.