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Feb 20, 2024 by Gordy Megroz
Photograph Cam McLeod | Skier Jim Ryan

Trade Secrets: Cam McLeod | Listen to the Client & the Mountains

Featuring photographer and director Cam McLeod

Home Base / Eden, Utah.

Activities / Skiing, mountain biking, trail running.

Insider Knowledge

Visual creatives often fixate on developing their personal artistic style, but when working for clients, photographers are tasked with helping execute a brand’s vision that fits with the brand’s photography guide. “For that, we need to develop our listening skills to tune in to what clients need, even when they aren’t the best at articulating it,” says McLeod. “It’s our job to translate what a client says into the visual assets they want.” 

"The communication it takes to get an image like this is difficult. There is a lot of trust on both sides of the lens." Skier: Marcus Caston

To McLeod, being a good listener is especially important when working in risky mountain environments, where shoots require a collaboration between the environment, the athletes, and the creative team. “We need to listen to the mountains and to the team in order to make safe decisions to execute a job without risking people’s lives,” he says. “Your ears are as important as your eyes.”

"This is a simple image, but everyone had to do their part to make it work. I love the unexpected juxtaposition of scale here." Skier: Madison Rose

Quick Tip

Listening doesn’t mean caving. Most clients respect when you push back—after you heard them out. “You can still have style, but there’s a delicate balance between listening to your client’s vision and incorporating your own style into that vision.”