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Role Reversal

Being in Front of the Camera

Story by Ross Tanner February 12th, 2014

selective feedback

When promoting a product and understanding a user experience, there are always 2 methods of opinion.

The External View, when you experience the product from the outside, with a birds eye view of how you think and see everything is and run.


The Internal View, that allows you to experience the product positioned as a user having touch points throughout the process.

Being in the creative digital industry, and being a photographer myself, I usually find myself in the “External View” Outlook. Working on how to improve my workflow, provide better customer service, improve my talent, handle and manage a scattered brain of ideas; and reinventing the wheel to be ahead of competitors. The issue with this is that rarely do you get a chance to know, except when asking your clients, how you have actually done. The beautiful thing is that no 2 people are the same, so every experience, process and deliverable will be different, though what is important here is finding ways to constantly improve.

Every Year, myself and my wife try to have one photo shoot in a different location and generally with a different photographer. This gives me insight not only into how others work from a professional level, but also allows me to experience a session from an internal process rather than just always have an externally angled view of what I think the process should look like.

Last week we were fortunate enough to have a photo shoot with one of my all time favorite photographers Fer Juaristi. Whilst I have worked with Fer for several years, and he is an active promoter of my design studios work, Fer has a unique spirit about him. Within minutes of meeting Fer you are already heavily engaged in conversation, laughing and feeling his positive energy radiant from his excitement and passion for his craft. This was our first touch point with his brand without getting to his craft. By the time we got to our first location the weather had taken a turn from bad to worse, though we went for it. Not only did I learn that Fer hadn’t done a session in the rain before, though he gave us the confidence to focus on what the session was about, that being “us” and not the surroundings.

The key points are that as a photographer, social interaction, support and motivation are just as key as your craft which lend itself to the final product. These are also add ons to the brand that you can only experience within the internal process, which add to your hidden brand culture and client excitement.



One of the exciting things about being in front of the camera vs taking the photos is that you generally know all the game plans of a photographer. The technical moves, the positioning pose that you have been set in, the nudges to get hidden expressions, and the style of product you will be delivered with. It is a hidden fact that whilst people want out of the box and unique, generally people just want something as brilliant as the last session that got them sold on hiring you in the first place. So what makes your images unique when you actually receive them and compare? Because, truthfully, how many variables can be different when having a session? The location, weather, emotions, equipment and the creative translation of the artist. These variables can be easily seen in the photographer‘s work, as strong work usually means consistent work, which in itself is safe. This is no different than in design work. Though applying this to our experience with Fer there where a few areas that where unique and made the expressions of his art stand out:

#1 - Focusing on being you.

Confidence is key to sales, life‘s decisions and growth. Fer worked hard to put himself into our childhood friend that loves to goof around. He took a humble role, and because of this allowed us to focus on all the good stuff, making out, cuddling, trying not to fall on our ass in mud and stuff of that nature.

#2 - Unique Experience.

Many feel that when they sign up for something creative, the first step is to compare to others. What you learn is that good brands that focus on you, make you forget the comparison factor making you believe and hope in the final product. Fer didn’t show us images, though if we asked he probably wouldn’t have said no, though this one thing proved important to keep excitement for us to see the very first image, yet we received multiple as a post within days of the session. This alone held us excited for what was to come, what imagery would be selected, how we will look, but by keeping that a mystery, it kept us hooked on Fer for his next move.

#3 - Setting No Expectations.

Many say under promise and over deliver, that’s a great phrase but a horrible paradox, as everyone’s interpretation of expectations are different. I grew up in the UK, my wife in the former USSR, and Fer in Mexico. We all have different cultures, viewpoints, and expectations on customer service and deliverables. This alone can serve as a recipe for disaster. We entered into the relationship with no expectations and focusing on the end product. Fer‘s passion and word for delivery was enough. We had seen his work and understood what we would receive, so the rest was just the experience.

Expressions go a long way in a brand experience. I consider every experience an expression, as they are filled with a type of emotion, which was played off to create unique imagery in this case. Yet, that attention to detail created a brand experience that we now believe in and are prepared to go out of our way to promote whilst NOT providing more services, products to “over achieve”.


Moving forward

Our Experience with Fer was phenomenal, and it goes without saying that we are thrilled. Though I am thankful not only for the imagery, but also for realization for moving forward. The experience I have received from working with other talented creatives like Gabe McClintock, Adam Alex & Fer is that through experiencing the internal process of a brand you can appreciate the difference of the processes that there are in the creative sphere, and take important valuable lessons that may be new or known findings that can be applied to your experience.

Putting down the camera and taking a change of character is refreshing, daunting, yet in the end fulfilling and energizing when it is done right. For many of you now is still early in the season, take a moment before diving into your work load pipeline this year and have a session with an artist that inspires you creatively or from a business perspective. It will be a rewarding experience not only to develop your relationship with your partner, or your own confidence if you‘re afraid to be in front of the camera which in all will help you to move forward.

San Francisco, CA, United States