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January 5, 2022

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It’s all in the Details

Robert Nowell, Professional photographer, photography professor and VP at Sprout Studio About Robert

The photo I'm sharing today is a portrait of an extraordinary individual. Terry O'Malley is a bit of an advertising legend in Canada. He is the former creative director and partner in the Toronto Advertising agency, Vickers and Benson.

Long before I focused mostly on portraits and weddings, I spent a full twelve years shooting mostly commercial and editorial photography. One of the benefits of this when I began to focus on portrait photography, was that my portrait clients saw my photographs and ads in our local lifestyle magazine every month. This kept my name and my brand front of mind in my own community.

I was asked to photograph an editorial spread of several creatives from the Niagara area for our local lifestyle magazine and I suggested we pay homage to the highly popular series MadMen. To me the thought of taking an advertising legend and recreating a scene from a 1960s advertising agency seemed like a lot of fun. It also turned out to be a lot of work.

What helps make this image successful to me, was the attention to detail that creates an authentic look of the mid-1960s. We had a very limited budget for the entire editorial series so we had to be resourceful. We started with location hunting. We put out the word on social media that we needed to find an interior location that had a genuine 60s feel to it. A lot of suggestions turned out to be duds but when I stepped into the abandoned third floor offices of a Niagara Falls newspaper, it was like stepping back in time. No one had touched these offices in decades and we found the location for our session.

Then we began searching for just the right props. We rooted through vintage shops and flea markets and came up with the perfect vintage office fan, desk blotter, ashtray, electric typewriter and bar service tray.

Finally, we needed an authentic wardrobe and we went straight to the best source possible. We contacted the wardrobe department of Shaw Festival, a nearby professional theatre of national stature. They were excited to participate and were unbelievably accommodating. On the day of the shoot they drove up with a van full of vintage suits, shirts and ties. They were even pressed and dry cleaned.

Terry, our subject showed up and really appreciated all the effort we had put in. He found the experience as rewarding as the final image. All the attention to detail paid off and made the portrait a success.


Our photography business needs the same commitment to the details as this session did. It takes work and commitment and the right tools to get the details right.

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Sprout Studio is made by photographers, for photographers. Start making a living doing what you love today.

Not just now and then, but consistently with intent and pattern. We need to care about the little things because to our clients it's often the little things we do that matter. By setting the scene for our client's experience we ensure that their experience exceeds expectations. Being able to do that again and again is achieved by giving the details thought and then changing thought into action.

Go the extra mile, it makes good photos great and turns typical into incredible!


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  • Nice photo. This blog is very useful for photographers, not only for professionals but for amateurs too, like me.
  • Great blog, articles posted on the blog are unique.
  • Thank you so much for creating such a awesome blog on photography.
  • Love this blog, extraordinary
  • Really great article. Useful thoughts as always!
  • I must appreciate this photography blog it has something special in it. I will like to see more related post on it.

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