Richard Whitfield tells us what he’s learnt during his career as a high profile photographer.
Richard’s celebrity portraits have included entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush and Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin.
He originally studied Fine Art in his native UK, where he discovered photography. Looking for adventure, Richard moved to Hong Kong and found his niche as a magazine photographer after being commissioned to photograph Hong Kong’s movers and shakers for Paris Vogue (guest-edited by His Holiness the Dalai Lama). After almost ten years based in Hong Kong, Richard relocated to Australia.
He now works for Torrens University as a Success Coach for Design students. Check out his top five tips about life in the industry.
Everyone has a great story
Magazine photography is all about storytelling and to be successful, you need to be genuinely curious about people. It’s always exciting to photograph someone famous, but usually, the best stories are about everyday people, who have had something extraordinary happen to them.
Ask lots of questions
Spend as much time asking questions as shooting (people love to talk about themselves!): You get to really understand the story you want to tell as well as build credibility and trust with your subject. 15 minutes over a cup of tea at the beginning of the shoot is a huge investment in the success of your shoot.
That said, magazine shoots are often time-pressured and stressful. Particularly with ‘celebrities’: it’s not unusual to be given as little as 5 minutes to create a great portrait (my PB was 30 seconds, after a 5 hour wait for my subject to turn up!).
Give a great a performance
However stressful the situation, you need to put on a performance. Your own confidence (or lack of) is infectious, particularly with subjects who are unused to being photographed. Even with time-poor celebrities, if they sense you are creating something special, they will often give you more time than scheduled.
Never miss a deadline
Magazines are a deadline-driven business. Often pictures need to be turned around overnight or even the same day. If you can’t meet a deadline, don’t accept the commission: Magazine photography is a small world: one missed deadline is likely to be fatal for your career.
Do you dream of a career as a Photographer?
Learn more about our photography program at Billy Blue College of Design. Richard is one of the Success Coaches for design students, giving them one on one advice about how to achieve their dreams of being a famous photographer!
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