Advice from LSP Trainer Derek Lomas
Derek Lomas is living proof that it’s never too late to start photography as a career. The LSP Product Photography trainer worked for four years as a shipping clerk after leaving school, and he hated every minute of it.
So he joined an evening photography course and he hasn’t look back since. With clients like L’Oréal and Yves Saint Laurent, Derek is now an established photographer with an incredible portfolio, and was eager to share some of his experiences, and offer some tips to our students.
“In London, like any big city, it’s good to specialise in one type of photography,” he said.
“I chose still life or product photos, and I especially find lipstick and shoes to be very photogenic.
“It’s not as competitive as fashion photography, but there is a lot of work in products, like shooting drinks, cosmetics, fashion accessories, magazine and advertising images.”
On getting noticed, Derek said that the first thing an aspiring photographer needs is a website where they can showcase their work.
“It can be your own domain or Instagram, Facebook or all of the above, depending on what your target audience is,” he said.
“It’s also good to carry a business card with you with all your details and and one of your photos on the back.”
As for getting work, Derk said that contacting magazines and PR companies is a good place to start.
“Each magazine has a masthead (a list of people that work at the magazine usually at the start of the magazine),” he said.
“If cosmetics are your thing then contact the Beauty Editor by sending them a card and then follow that up by calling the magazine.
“Sounds a little intimidating (I thought it was), but it gets easier.
“You then ask if you can pop in to show them your work, and if that is not possible, if they would take some time to look at your work on your website. The same applies to PR companies and Advertising agencies.
“As your experience and profile grows then you can start contacting bigger companies,” he adds.
“BUT do your research, as there is no point contacting an agency with your cosmetic pictures if they only work on cars.“
LSP run a great career coaching course which will cover this and more.
But apart from the obvious technical knowledge required in order to make it into the business, Derek insists that preparation is key.
“If you fail to prepare then you prepare to fail,” is an old but true saying,” he said.
“Communication with your client is key in order to know exactly what they want and how it can be achieved.
“If it’s something new to you try to set up a dummy run before the day or as close as is possible.
“Make lists of equipment, names, addresses so you don’t have to remember everything in your head, and don’t forget to take spares of cables, bulbs etc.
“If the budget allows take an Assistant where ever possible …better to have less profit sometimes than turn up sweating and flustered.“
Every photographer has someone they look up to, or a publication they would love to work for. Derek gets his inspiration from Magazines like Harpers Bazaar, and Vogue, and from photographers like Irving Penn, Reymond Meier and Platon. He also follows other photographers’ work on social platforms.
Derek’s advice to budding photographers is simple: Practice.
“Practice your art. This is easier with product photography as you only need (in most cases) a kitchen table to shoot on and your lights and camera. No model or large studio needed,” he said.
“Find what interests you most and photograph it. Find out what is easy and what gives you problems and work to overcome them so that when a paid job comes in you have already worked it out.
“Like any self employed job, it is a bit of a roller coaster with great achievements and low days but it is a great lifestyle when it works.
“Lastly, like lots of things in life, try to surround yourself with people who are enthusiastic about life and photography. It will rub off and help you reach higher and be happier.“