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How to Get Started in Product Styling Photography | Erica Steeves | The Wise Photographer Podcast

March 18, 2020

I'm Chelsy, a single mom in a small town, who loves photographing weddings, and helping photographers build their own businesses

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I was so excited to interview Erica, who is a Commercial Photographer! She launched her business seven short months ago, and she, like many creative businesses, are still trying to figure things out and put the pieces together. She started as a prop stylist, dominated the niche and now and it’s her primary expertise. Taking the leap to branch on her own, her experiences, the opportunities that she has worked for and her vision of what makes a commercial photographer is a breath of fresh air. She is the real deal, and a woman many photographers should look up to, or any entrepreneur just starting out!

What is a Commercial Brand Photographer and what do you do as one?


“So essentially, a Commercial Photographer is somebody that primarily works with brands and my main purpose for taking photos is that they’re going to be showing up in advertising marketing. I’ve done print, I’ve done work for magazines and things like that. So, the whole premise and objective is to make photographs that are going to sell items and this is a Commercial Photographer for me. I primarily shoot in the studio. I do shoot on location sometimes, but generally, I’m using strobe lights which gives like a really high-quality crisp image with a lot of bright colorful contrast. So, that’s what I kind of like to label as a Commercial Photographer.

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But taking it one step further is like taking my product styling and mixing it with commercial photography. I really tell stories and I help build brand identities with businesses. Something that I work with a lot with my clients in determining their story, how do we get there, and I do this visually with the items that I place in the camera and in the frame and the items that I pull. It’s the concepts and the creative direction that I give while I’m on set or preparing for the issue. I have niche out a little space for myself by calling myself a Commercial Brand Photographer.”

What’s been some of your favorite brands that you’ve worked with recently?


“It’s kind of crazy because I didn’t go to school for photography. My friend had gone to school for photography and he’s had this business for over 10 years. Initially, I just started out doing product styling for him because he needed extra hands because of the volume he was picking up. So, I would join him on set and we would keep working on different things. Eventually, it got to a point where my work was starting to get noticed. It was the point that I took the leap of faith in joining the studio full time as the Creative Director.

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I booked a large client here in Montreal named Linen Chest, which is a department store. They have like a linen section, home kitchen and decorations. They also do custom curtains and things like this, but I think they have over 30 stores like in Canada. So, they have a really large footprint and they’re based out of Montreal where I work. It was kind of a turning point where I was like, okay, I need to make the decision if I’m going to be doing this full time. I left my job in the fashion industry to come over to do this over the years, my photography without even realizing it. I woke up on Saturday morning and one of my images was in times square. 

So it’s just, you never know where things are going to take you. And it’s just, it’s so exciting to me still. “

Erica Steeves

Sometimes my favorite projects to work on are people that are just getting their feet wet and they’re starting their business from scratch and there’s a lot of room for input and creative direction. But when you’re working with those larger companies, you’re fitting a mold. You are fulfilling a preconceived expectation and it can be really hard to meet those deadlines or that expectation because they typically can’t be onset and you have to communicate through email. So there really is a wide spectrum.

Get Erica’s 5 Step Guide with scripts, pricing formula, Templates, and Tips on making Potential clients your dream clients!

What is Erica’s process when working with a new brand or a new company? Is she doing research to help prepare? Is she relying solely on her skills and design? Listen here to find out! 

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Erica recently started a youtube channel where ever Tuesday she takes you behind the scenes of a product shoot and gives you tips on how to style and shoot different products! This recent shoot with Pure Prep was so tasty!

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