Planning your photography is the most crucial part of getting your photoshoots right. For commercial photography, where budgets are limited and deadlines are real, you need to be certain of what you’re shooting before you begin. That’s why it’s important to do your research and prepare.
Our team regularly works with top local photographers such as Ian McCausland, Colin Corneau and David Lipnowski. We find it makes sense to hire professionals when your brand is on the line. Sometimes one of our team will carry a camera as well to capture a moment for social media.
Whatever the case - if you’re hiring someone or shooting it yourself - you need to plan ahead. For example, you should be familiar with your subject and familiarize yourself with the geography of the location. You should also think about what messages you want to send with the photography. What’s the tone and style? What are you trying to illustrate? What mood are you trying to get across?
Once you know those things, you can create a detailed shot list. When you head out with a clear idea of what you want, you’re all set to capture some amazing shots.
Consider creating a photography brief like this one from Milanote. You can do something similar in a notebook or a shareable document of any type. A photography brief summarizes all the pertinent information your person behind the lens will need to be successful.
While setting up your goals, you’d want to answer questions like:
As you outline your deliverables, list out any specific shots you’re aiming for and quantify them. It’s always a good practice to specify the channels where you’d be using them.
When you define your target audience, think about what interests them, what they care about or what inspires them. This will help you gather useful insights while speaking to them through your shoots.
A clear and well-researched brief is a significant tool for photographers in helping them achieve the best results. If you have a team you’re working with, share the brief to ensure everyone’s on the same page.
A mood board is a method of visualizing the imagery and ideas you have in mind. It should illustrate the style, look and mood you’d like to portray in your photography.
A Google search and visits to Instagram or Pinterest can help you create mood boards. Save screenshots and ideas to your ‘board’ whether that’s in a Word document or something like Evernote. That can provide direction for desired imagery, like posing examples, various compositions, lighting set-up, camera angles, colour palettes, props, editing styles, suitable locations, and much more.
Mood boards are widely used to communicate your vision to your team with images compiled as a collage. They are also a visual reminder of everything you need to bring that imagery into life.
When you shortlist the final visuals you’d like to capture, you can develop your shot list. Having this list handy while taking photos ensures that you’re covering all the shots that need to be taken and you’re not missing out on any significant moments.
It’s time-saving and prepares you well. Traditionally, you’d probably carry a printout of the shot list for reference on the day but today it’s easier to access digital shot lists on your phones or laptop.
After all the effort you put into research and planning your photoshoot, the last thing you’d want is a drained battery, a foggy lens or a full memory card. Making sure that your gear is ready for the shoot is as important as anything else. Based on the contents of the mood board and shot list, you can create a checklist of items you’d need as part of the gear to make sure that you have everything you need to capture that shot. One of the reasons we like shooting with professionals is that they have plenty of gear to create just the right effect.
Remember that if you’re looking for special lighting, you probably need to give yourself (or your photographer) plenty of time to set up and test the conditions on set.
If you’re working with a team, it’s important to keep them well informed. Make sure they have everything they need for the shoot and answer any questions they have. Similarly, if it’s your client, they need to know what’s going on, so keep them updated.
Stay organized and maintain a list of contact details for your client and crew. Find an accessible platform where you can easily collaborate with them.
While planning, ask them to share their thoughts and ideas as you share the mood board and shot list with them, so they feel included. Follow up with your team as you get closer to the shoot, and make sure that they are all set and ready to go.
Collaboration and communication are imperative to a smooth sailing photoshoot.
Most photoshoots require you to pick a suitable location that aligns with the goals and purpose of your shoot. Refer to your mood board and think of the purpose behind the shoot; the ambience you want to create and what you want your images to reflect and convey - this will help you narrow down your location options.
If you have the flexibility to choose a date, make sure you get a consensus from the whole team to ensure their availability on the day. If you’re working with models, you’ll need to communicate details about dates, times and wardrobe well in advance.
As long as you have done your homework and can keep up with your plan, you can stay optimistic and expect some amazing shoots on the day.
We recommend that you have a contract or an agreement that holds you, your photographer and the client accountable. Contracts should cover details like the duration of the shoot and outline the approximate number and type of images that need to be captured. It’s also very important to stipulate rules around copyright for the images. In general, we stipulate that the rights to the image(s) reside with the photographer until they are paid in full by the agency. Likewise, the agency owns them until paid in full by the client. Make sure you’re clear about copyright. Some photographers demand a photo credit as well.
Whether you’re building a website, developing social media content or preparing other marketing materials, visuals play a major role in gaining the attention of your audiences. They further help with brand recall and recognition.
Further, statistics reveal that 65 percent of the general population is visual learners.
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