If you don’t know how to shoot something, don’t do it and expect to be paid. Be honest and upfront.
Okay, there’s more to it of course. If you want to learn how to do something, absolutely learn it. However, if you take a paying job and you are in WAY over your head, it’s probably not the smartest thing to do. I was inspired by a post that commercial photographer had vented about on social media. Someone had contacted him and wanted a step by step detailed guide on shooting a commissioned piece that this photographer had no business accepting to do. I feel my friend did the right thing and did not share his years of experience and complete detailed description on how to shoot said subject.
If you get an opportunity to do a big commercial gig and you have no idea how to shoot it, then don’t accept it. Learn your craft. Yes, you may be great in other areas of photography but that doesn’t mean you can go out and shoot something outside your scope and do it as well as others and expect to be paid as if you’ve been shooting this area for years. There is no shame in passing along a job that you know someone else would do better at because the other person specializes in it.
I’m not saying don’t ask for advice. I once had to shoot a political figure who was making international news. She was still getting treatments on her face so I reached out to Clay Cook and asked how I should best light her so my editing would be easier. I shoot portraits all the time. I photograph several high-end politicians for campaigns. To be hired for a shoot like this isn’t out of the normal for me. I just had a new element I wanted to talk through with another photographer. I’m absolutely grateful for my friends who will talk with me and go over ideas. It helps us all be better. I’m proud of the image that was improved because of that friendship.
Another rant of mine is as I have taken on more and more commercial work, I’m finding it hard to navigate prices. It’s a learning curve. I’m finding there’s no real standard and even having an agent, my quotes are all over the map. If you are taking a job you have no business taking and you (I’m assuming) are probably undercutting the project’s value, it hurts everyone involved. Do what you do best. If you want to learn another aspect of photography then learn it. But do not take jobs that go beyond your skill set. It only brings down photography for everyone involved.