Malan Kotze is one of our devoted clients. We decided to catch up with him and hear what he has to say about his career as a commercial photographer.
Introducing Malan Kotze
A professional photographer for the past 30-years, Malan has done just about everything photography-related; from owning a one-hour photo lab and studio to traveling throughout South Africa taking family portraits. The traveling became a bit too much, so when the opportunity arose to photograph a friend’s house (he was in the market to sell) Malan jumped at the opportunity. The house was sold to overseas buyers and ever since then, Malan never looked back and commercial photography was his destiny.
Defining commercial photography
Commercial photography can be described as a photograph that is used to sell, advertise or market a product, service or person. “Those photographs in magazines, online publications, CD covers or posters all fall under commercial photography.”
The best thing about his job
He says that the best part about his job is working with professional clients who respect you and what you do. “Having worked in the lifestyle industry for years with screaming babies, mothers who tell you how to do your job, “photographers” in your way at weddings… it was a welcome change.”
Malan’s Top Tips
I asked him to share his 5 top tips for creating a photograph that will satisfy any client. This was his feedback:
- Listen to your client’s brief
- Develop an eye for detail
- Patience to get that perfect shot
- Timing is everything
- Get it right in-camera – Positioning, exposure, lighting, angle and composition
Though some people may argue the more genres you cover the bigger your field of income and the more you stay in touch with trends. Malan urges photographers to “specialize, specialize, specialize!” “Clients want photographers who are experts in their field of photography. Find your passion genre and work very hard.”
Photographic gear and equipment
- Nikon D800 camera
- Nikon PC-E 24mm F3.5D tilt-shift lens for Architecture exteriors and interiors (He can’t wait for Nikon’s new 19mm to hit the market)
- Nikon 14-24mm F2.8G ED lens for interiors
- Nikon 24-70mm F2.8G ED lens for the interior detail shots and sometimes products
- Nikon 105mm F2.8G ED Macro lens for food and products
- Nikon SB800 flash for the odd corporate event
- Hahnel remote trigger
- Profoto B2 location kit for food and product with various light modifiers
- Tamrac Expedition 7 backpack
I do have other equipment, which I have accumulated over the years but I don’t use it for the work I do at the moment.
Malan is a firm believer of ‘time spent in post is wasted’ cause you can spend that time in marketing or shooting. He makes use of Lightroom 6 and Photomatix and if need be, he’ll send the work to his editor for Photoshop work.
Marketing is key to success
Since he doesn’t advertise, Malan does a lot of research, makes a ton of phone calls, sends emails back and forth, follows up and repeats. He says that landing jobs for big companies like Jenna Clifford, Southern Sun and Mercedes don’t just fall in your lap. “One has to keep in touch with the decision makers and constantly market yourself because people forget about you quickly.” As photographers, marketing is probably the worst part of our job but it has to get done.
Relocating to Europe is on Malan’s wish list. He loves the history of the architecture there and says that he’ll take the first opportunity to work there.
Malan Kotze is a man with history himself. He worked very hard to get where he is today and is still at it. We wish him all the best and hope he gets an awesome opportunity to go to Europe soon!