How to get into the creative direction career if you are a photographer? This article is about Creative Direction Tips for Photographers.


It seems in the past couple of years I’ve noticed a substantial percentage of photographers calling themselves a Creative Director. While I’m not against ambition, I don’t think the tactic is something that benefits anyone. I noticed on the popular audio app, clubhouse that every photographer was a Creative Director.


Yes, wedding photographers in South Carolina were creative directors. Photographers and Morocco and Tokyo were also creative directors but looking at their portfolios it didn’t look like they were shooting more than a couple of years.


However, they are miss using the term Creative Director or actually the title of the occupation. You cannot be a photographer and a Creative Director simultaneously, it just does not work. When I noticed how many photographers have referred to themselves as a Creative Director, I figured it would be a good time to explain what the job actually does and how they can become the Creative Director they expire to me.

In this blog, I’m going to tell you the dangers of calling yourself a title you haven’t yet earned. Remember, the keyword is “yet”. OK, let’s start talking about how you can become a Creative Director the right way.


Taylor Zakhar Perez, by Photographer/Creative Director Walid Azami

Creative Direction for Photographers: A true creative Director has thousands of hours of experience under their belt. That means they’ve been on hundreds of sets, budgeted millions of dollars, hired hundreds if not thousands of people and they use that experience to put out fires. A photographer who refers to themselves as a Creative Director but only has a few years of their experience cannot match that experience.


A Creative Director who worked their way up and acquired thousands of hours of experience understands how to manage every department on set. This creative director understands how to negotiate with them, how to manage their time and overall budgets. This creative Director can work with multiple personalities and put out multiple fires simultaneously. I don’t understand how anyone with a few years as a photographer can call themselves a creative Director.


This isn’t to put you down. This is meant to help you navigate your career in a healthier and more robust way. I also want to speak on how this is unfair to you, your development, and your career. Because calling yourself a Creative Director prematurely can put your own career at risk, where you thought it might be a boost. That’s why I wrote this Creative Direction Tips for Photographers blog.


Let me explain why it would be unfair to you and your future development. When a company hires a Creative Director, they assume you come with at least a couple of decades of work experience. When you write Creative Director on your portfolio it means you’ve amassed thousands of hours of experience. It means you understand budgeting, the role of every person on set, how to communicate with every person in every situation, how to manage the client’s needs and communicate with a creative sunset. It means you have gone through the ranks, and multiple positions which gave you this rich experience.


Naturally, when somebody sees a creative Director on your résumé, they are judging you and ranking you against people who actually have the experience. You’re not looked at fairly. They will see your current work and then they will see those people who actually have the hours, and you won’t get a fair shot. To put it bluntly, they’ll think you kind of suck at what you do. This is unfair to you because you haven’t had the years to develop, to gain experience, to build your career. You deserve the time to grow and create your own creative direction style.


Now let’s talk about how you can build your creative direction portfolio!


Let’s break down the steps into three categories.

  1. The first part is divorcing yourself from the role of photographer. You cannot be the photographer on set and the person who is representing the client, the Creative Director. You are one or the other. Generally, it is the creative director who makes the final decision in hiring the photographer, and you cannot hire yourself and manage yourself. That is why you should acquire clients, even if it is a test shoot, as a Creative Director. This means you hire the team but that’s step 2.
  2. You are the boss on set, and you put your dream team together. Find a client who wants to put a shoot together, who wants to rebrand themselves, who wants to build out and offer them your services of creative direction. Then do it and represent this client. You will be the hovering presence on set. You are the one that greenlights everything and acts in favor of your client. You will kill the shots, change angles, make suggestions, have the make-up and glam team stay on track, and see the big picture beyond the photoshoot. You will come out with some incredible images and use a small handful of them, just the very best of the best.
  3. We take those first sets of images and take them to another business to show what we can do. Show them how you converted one brand or elevated their branding. Make sure the second “client” it’s from the same type of industry, so we build a creative direction portfolio that has momentum. And you construct a second successful photoshoot where you lead everything. And then we repeat this pattern a couple more times. This is no different than the way you built your photography portfolio, it’s called test shoots. This will not happen in one month. It might take you a full year to put two successful photoshoots together. That’s OK because in the meantime you’re also gaining experience as a photographer or videographer. You have two careers building at the same time, and I think you’re very capable of doing that.

Creative Direction for Photographers: Watch the video, it goes into greater detail but I hope this gives you an overview of how you can become a Creative Director and actually earn the title. I want nothing but the best for you, and I thought it was time to speak up.


Ricky Martin by Walid Azami

Photo 2: Ricky Martin by Photographer/Creative Director Walid Azami

I have something that is going to help you, a lot! I have something called a photographer’s survival package, and when you sign up you’re going to get several free gifts from me. Use those gifts, those are templates that I use all the time for my own business. When you do it properly, you will instantly see the results. If you wish to sign up for my free photographer survival guide, click here.


Once you sign up, you’re going to get an offer for a masterclass. The master class is incredible, it is going to change your business and you should start earning a substantial income almost immediately. Most photographers already know how to take the photograph, they just don’t know how to manage the career of the person holding the camera. My students have been published in L magazine, multiple fashion magazines, photographed book covers, and some have already doubled their income and gone, full-time as a photographer. Look out for the one-time offer in the email.