Addleman's lighting strategy doesn't remain static, either. "Over the years, I've had different formulas for different times in my life-it's not unlike me on a day of a major shoot to suddenly light differently than I did last week," he says. "I don't jump all over the place; there are certain principles to lighting that stay the same. But how I achieve that, (mixing a strobe with daylight, or using an HMI or hotlight), I'm open. Having had the years of experience with so many different situations, photographers, and production, I kind of know a little bit about everything. I can deal with most situations."
Post-production can also be a lifesaver in certain circumstances. "You have a much greater latitude for correction after the fact," he says. "I try to put everybody in the best possible light, but there are situations where the moment I caught that 'I love that shot' image wasn't in the perfect light. Thank goodness for digital. I don't do huge amounts of retouching, but it's nice knowing it can be fixed."
Addleman relies on his agent, Alyssa Pizer, to get the word out about his work. "I've been with Alyssa since 1997, when she was just starting out as well," he recalls. "She basically took me on over the phone after I'd mailed her my portfolio. I'd just gotten a call for a job on my own, based on some homemade promo pieces I'd sent out, and Alyssa asked for way more money than I would have. On that first job she more than paid for the 25% she was going to take, and I signed with her."
Because many of his clients, other than repeat ones, go directly through Pizer, Addleman doesn't see the need at the moment to have his own dedicated website (his work is featured prominently on hers). "I let her lead the way," he says. "She's a marketing hound!" She checks whether Addleman's style is right for a particular client and if he's even available. Once negotiations have begun, Addleman often takes over. "But she has a better overview of my schedule, so it works for me to just do the site through her," he adds.
Addleman recently moved from L.A. to Maryland, mainly because the nature of his work no longer necessitates an L.A. home base. "I had originally been more of a studio photographer until I moved to the West Coast," he explains. "Then more and more shoots started to become location." He soon found he was shooting as much in other places as at home. "I'd gotten married, had a daughter, and we decided this past year that I could travel from anywhere; I have a strong enough client base that they're buying me a ticket no matter what. It really doesn't matter to them whether I fly from Timbuktu or L.A."
While Addleman appreciates the inherent aesthetic appeal of a well-formed image, he also approaches his work from a business point of view. "Ultimately, on a given day, I'm being hired to make my client's vision come true," he says. "Many photographers don't realize there are 25 people standing behind them who have hired them for the day."
He stresses the importance of knowing how to walk the line between being overly aggressive and being assertive enough to be able to get the shot the way it needs to be done. "If you give in too much, you'll come away with a mediocre shot; if you don't give in at all, even if your shot is amazing, then they may not want to work with you again," he explains. "You want to ultimately remember you're working for the client, but you want to speak up if you think the lighting is terrible and it won't photograph the way they envision it. You have to be sensitive to their needs, but not give up all the control."
This diplomatic tactic also carries over into Addleman's "stage presence." "In everyday life, the more you're able to have great people skills, the better it'll be for you, especially if your forte is fashion and lifestyle," he says. "If you're trying to get people to relax and be comfortable, being a little malleable helps.
"There are several thousand photographers in the U.S. who could shoot a commercial job on any given day," he continues. "Many times for the client it comes down to: 'Who do I want to spend the next seven days with?' I've always been comfortable with people in general, and I'm a strong team player. I know some photographers don't like anyone else to look at a monitor before they've had a chance to go in and make adjustments. I don't mind if they see it; it might not be the exact exposure I'm going to finally give them or the exact colors, but they get the idea of where we're going."
In the end, Addleman understands that even though he's the creator and final arbiter of how the shot comes out, he's part of a group effort. "It still comes down to me pushing the button at the last microsecond, but I realize we're all human beings, and we're all there to make a picture for someone else."
For more of Addleman's work, go to www.AlyssaPizer.com