Friday, October 12, 2007

Bread & Butter

Bread and butter is a term we use for jobs that don't require too much special lighting and focus ability but help to contribute to the overall profit of a commercial studio. Sometimes it might be packaging for a test, catalog, or coupon. Sometimes it might be a full group of watches or maybe some tools. As I think about it, I guess bread & butter shots are anything that can be set up once, and then multiple products cycled through the set utilizing the same lighting and focus. The per shot price is usually low, but as you shoot through all of the product, the low prices add up to real money. Sometimes bread and butter jobs reward us with a higher day rate than we get from our normal shoot days.

I can remember assisting a photographer in the '70's on a watch job. He set the whole thing up, lighting, set and focus, then I cycled the watches through and exposed the 4X5" film. Aside from the responsibility of the set up, I did all of the work and the photographer made all of the money (except for my small day rate).

I was involved in a similar watch job recently. It reminded me how much things have changed since I began. There was no assistant (just 2 photographers), the shots were stripped out (by me), and the per watch price was less than 30 years ago! Still, we made a terrific day rate, the client was happy, it was easy. and a good friend and I got to play together for a few days.

So there you go: Bread and Butter shots. Commercial photographers would starve without them and they're just a good thing.