Master Any Lighting Setup With The Help Of set.a.light 3D

The Top 5 Things to Consider from an Experienced Creative Director to get your next assignment by Claudia Lebenthal

12/27/2013 ISO 1200 Magazine 1 Comments

A few weeks ago we received an email from Lauren to collaborate with an amazing photographer and now Creative Director, Claudia Lebenthal [ Style of Sport blog]. You know we are a video blog but both thought it could be interesting to explain you what is the role of a creative director and this is the result:

A creative director wears a number of different hats but primarily their job visual illustration and problem solving in an advertising or editorial context. We hire a photographer because we feel their particular style will work best to visually communicate the story we are trying to tell. It is the image that initially draws the audience in, and from that they will decide if they want to keep reading.

There are clear objectives that need to be accomplished however and it is the Creative Directors job to guide the photographer to successfully achieve those goals. 
The Creative Director is there to help the photographer do his or her best work, while still executing the assignment.


1) First Impression: Is it important for you? Why/why not?

The first thing a Creative Director sees that represents a photographer’s work is either their website or portfolio. When it comes to the website my advice is keep the categories straight forward… Fashion, Celebrity, Beauty, Travel, etc. Avoid getting creative with those category titles. 

Creative Directors are usually looking for something in particular and are pressed for time. Make it easy for them to find what they are looking for!

As for the portfolio, spend the money on a good one, even if you’re just getting started. It will add the impression of experience and professionalism.

2) What methods/paths do you use when finding your potential photographers and what factors go into selecting a photographer?

Most of us know all the photo agencies well and the photographers they represent. Some rely on the art buyer or photo editor to show them the work of photographers with whom they might not be familiar. 

We are all constantly on the lookout for new talent and the next big thing. Magazines are usually the best resource and living in NYC where there are so many epic newsstands is such a great resource.

When choosing a photographer for a particular assignment it is all about whether we think their style best compliments the story or concept. In the ideal scenario we hire a photographer to illustrate an idea, they execute the assignment, but also elevate it with something unexpected and surprising. 

We are always open to other ideas, but usually request you nail the assignment first. There are times when we can be risky and try new talent, but there are also times when we hire a photographer because we know they will get the job done.

3) What are some of the most effective ways to show off your portfolio?

Ya gotta be good! Not everyone is a photographer just because they take pictures and the amount of awful portfolios we see is kind of mind boggling. Beyond that it is kind of basic.

 Invest in a good portfolio, one with your name embossed. You’ll appear experienced beyond your years. And unscratched portfolio sleeves please… your images will look better through clear plastic.

4) In a photo shoot, what qualities are important for a creative director to possess?

A photo shoot is a collaboration but it is our job to make sure the photographer has the tools they need to do their best work. This means props, styling, location, model etc. The photographer is always involved in this process, but as we are the ones ultimately responsible for getting the photograph needed for the magazine or an ad, we need to make sure the set is prepared.

We should listen to each other. The creative director should be open to alternate ideas, but the photographer should also give the creative director the image requested. If the photographer accepted the assignment, they understood what was expected. If it is a bad picture, we won’t like it either, but we’d like to at least see it.

When the relationship between photographer and creative director is a good collaboration, there is nothing more fun. It’s teamwork, with each player elevating the others game, and when great pictures are the result, it is very satisfying!

5) What are some of your tips for reaching out to a Creative Director?

Most magazines or ad agencies have a drop off day when portfolios are reviewed. Good work will stand out and unless you have an amazing body of work, my advice is don’t push for an appointment. There are so many photographers out there and honestly 1 in 10 portfolios reviewed have anything special. 
Get a good agent if you can. 
 Creative Directors will make an appointment with a photographer if they come recommended from someone they know.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Claudia Lebenthal

Claudia Lebenthal |
I am Claudia Lebenthal, currently the Editor of, a blog about sport and the intersection with fashion, design, art, news and culture, which I founded last March. Prior to that I was the Executive Creative Director of Trunk Archive, a high-end image licensing agency.

 I spent the bulk of my career however as a Creative and Photography Director of a number of magazines at Conde Nast including Allure, Women’s Sports & Fitness and Self. I have worked with many of the most prominent photographers in the fashion, celebrity, portrait, beauty and lifestyle genres, and am happy be sharing some of my knowledge and experience on what goes into making a successful shoot.

More inspiration:

Thanks a lot Claudia and Lauren for sharing all these amazing tips to be a better photographer and get more assignments. And if you are a photographer with style don´t  forget to visit , you will love it.