13 Mar Photo studio hire: Client Showcase Issue #001
Interview with commercial pro Stefanie Calleja Gera
One of the things that’s great about the photo studio hire part of our business is the connections we make. Here we talk to commercial pro photographer Stefanie Calleja Gera. She tells us about how she started, her secret spot in the English Cotswolds, and what she loves about commercial photography.
NB. All images in this blog post are credit Stefanie Calleja Gera.
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us Stef, we know you’re super busy! So how did you get started in commercial photography?
I did my degree in photography and after a brief stint in London, I relocated to the Cotswolds to be with my (now) husband and managed to get a job with a local commercial photography business. Started many years ago on the bottom rung, making tea and assisting. It was a fabulous education and gave me a foundation to build on.
We’ve known you for a couple of years now and you’ve been one of our best photo studio hire clients here at Kinetic! So how long have you been working as a commercial photographer?
I started shooting professionally around 10 years ago and established my own business 4 years ago.
What draws you to commercial photography over the other genres?
We live in such an image driven society thanks to social media etc. Professional impactful images are more important than ever for helping businesses represent their brand. There is great pleasure in helping businesses grow and strengthen their brand presence. I also love the variety that commercial photography offers. Shooting a beer bottle one day, a truck the next and then a clothing shoot with models the next day. Variety is the spice of life so they say!
What’s the most exciting client you’ve worked for recently?
I had great fun helping to bring a new product to market for JCB – they brought their newly restored vintage truck with JCB livery for me to have a play with on the open road – it’s a beast! Also, I recently got given the photographers equivalent of a golden ticket: free reign on a product shoot for a South West based cheese manufacturer where we produced a series of really interesting and creative images!
We know you as one of our best photo studio hire clients, but what are your favourite locations to shoot in the Cotswolds and further afield?
That is almost an unanswerable question as there are so many amazing places in the Cotswolds, every time I go out I find a new potential place to shoot but I do have a favourite secret spot on Cleeve Hill which I’ve used for more than one shoot and I also just love the Broadway area in general – further afield we did a shoot last year at an amazing waterfall in South Wales which consisted of a 40 min trek fully laden with kit! I also shot at a stunning villa in Cannes this year so I can’t think of anywhere bad really!
Do you prefer studio or location work, and how much of your work is photography studio based vs location?
No two weeks are the same but at the moment it’s probably 50/50 split between location shoots, and shoots where I use photo studio hire facilities. Obviously the convenience of being in the studio with all my kit and close to a coffee machine is fab but I’m lucky enough to shoot in so many amazing locations that I love the excitement of what each location shoot brings.
“I’m a massive movie fanatic and would love to be involved with creating images to be used in movie advertising. Some of those images become so iconic and collectible, I’d love to be part of that.”Stefanie Calleja Gera
What would be your dream commission?
I’m a massive movie fanatic and would love to be involved with creating images to be used in Movie advertising. Some of those images become so iconic and collectible, I’d love to be part of that.
How important is social media and digital marketing to your business?
I mentioned earlier, we live in a image driven society so social media is very relevant to what I do. As I’m so incredibly busy, it’s something that I should definitely dedicate more time to. Whilst yes social media is an important tool, I feel that to meet and develop strong relationships with the type of clients I want to work with, you can’t beat a good bit of business development.
How important are other creatives to your business?
Massively important. I think you’re only as good as the like minded people you surround yourself with. And I’m lucky enough to work with a number of creatives who each bring their own strengths and talents to projects when needed. For example, Justin Golby of Golby Creative and I have worked together on tonnes of projects over the past few years. His expertise and the level of his work means that I have no hesitation to bring him in on projects with my clients. Equally, Sumi Glass is my go to food stylist. She has years of experience working with the likes of Swartz & Quorn on their recipe development teams. And she is amazing fun to have on set! I also have a great bank of hair & make-up artists I regularly work with. These include Jodi Croft, Christine Holdsworth & Chris Murphy. These guys all have the same work ethic as me and love a good creative shoot!
How much time do you dedicate to personal work and how important do you feel this is to your business?
I used to have a lot more time to dedicate to personal work than I do now because I’m just so much busier, but I do still try to fit in a few projects a year as I just love the freedom to create with no boundaries.
How do you measure your success?
By levels of satisfaction – both mine and my clients. I need to be happy with the images I’ve produced. And more importantly, I need to exceed my clients expectations. I aim to do that on every shoot.
What do you do when you’re not shooting?
Well, based on earlier comments, I love a good movie! I work not only during the week but quite often find myself working on Saturdays and Sundays to fit shoots around client diary’s and to prop / prepare sets for upcoming shoots. It’s a rare occasion I do find myself with a day off. Then I spend as much time as possible catching up with family and friends. It’s all about that work life balance – maybe one day I’ll get some!
If you’d like to know more about our photo studio hire facility, we’d love to hear from you.
And if you’d like to check out the work of Stefanie Calleja Gera or the creatives she collaborates with, here are some useful links: