Last time on the blog we talked about pre-visualisation before getting the camera out on set. This time along a similar theme, I'd like to step back a bit and think about what happens even before you're on the set.
When creating marketing photographs for commercial clients, capturing an image that advertises a product or service is more than just grabbing a camera and hoping something turns out on the day. I'll concede that on a few rare occasions images can happen by accident, but as a professional commercial photographer its my job to make those moments happen in front of the camera on a routine and planned basis.
So, how does this happen? Am I just incredibly lucky? Well yes, but that's another story.
To improve your chances of capturing the must have corporate or marketing images, you'll need to stack the deck in your favour and that takes preparation.
In commercial situations the need to be efficient and work quickly is paramount. Time is money and clients don't pay you to just keep snapping in the hope you'll get something right. You need a focus.
Here's some pre-shoot tips that'll help you improve your success rate, save you time and help you get your images without too many dramas. Its not an exhaustive list, but highlights some of the things that will hopefully reduce the stress of getting those all important images.
1) Ask as many questions as possible to understand the projects scope and meet your clients expectations. Be absolutely clear about what your client expects and what you can deliver. Don't over promise. Iron out any issues prior to the shoot. Don't wait to till the day of your shoot to air your concerns.
2) Get something in writing that the client agrees to your estimate and your terms of service.
3) Be absolutely clear with the client about the process of how you work and how you will deliver on your promises.
4) Do your research. In most cases you'll have to pre-conceived ideas about what you're photographing, how you'd like the shots to look and the style of lighting to employ. Write then down or sketch them out if need be. If you don't have any ideas, trawl the web to find some. Gather them up and create a mood board for inspiration before and when you're on the shoot.
5) Examine the brief in detail, plan the shoot and break it down, location by location. This may involve a reccy of the premises prior to the shoot. This will save you a ton of time. If you have a choice, plan to shoot locations that are of close proximity to one another. Breaking down lighting set ups and moving to the next location will waste valuable time. So plan to make the flow of the shoot simple and efficient.
6) If it's a large shoot, compile all this information into a production book for distribution to all involved prior to the shoot. This will hold vital information, contact numbers, names, permits, contracts, concept visuals and shoot lists etc.
7) Make a list of what's required at each location. Detail the location outlets (if required), the equipment needed and the people required. Is it a restricted access area, does it need personal protective equipment (PPE). In Construction, Healthcare, Research and Pharmaceutical sectors, there are lots of restrictions to taking photographs, whether thats height restrictions, sterile areas, or barrier nursing it is imperative to get clearance well before the shoot. Notify the specific personnel responsible for these areas and organise PPE. Always factor in extra time for restricted areas.
8) Prepare your kit in advance. Make sure cards are wiped, batteries charged, lenses and camera sensors cleaned and flash units all work. Check this again just prior to setting off. Make sure you have backup equipment in case the worst happens. That may mean considering hiring other kit.
9) If you're shooting outside, keep an eye on the weather forecast, but don't panic if it looks grim the forecasters usually get it wrong. Try to build a bit of flexibility into the shoot, look at scheduling some interior and exteriors at difference parts of the day, that way if it starts bad you can shoot the interiors and hope it clears up, or if it starts nice head outside and pick up the exteriors first. The UK weather is so changeable sometimes just leaving it half an hour is enough to turn rain into sun.
10) Above all keep an open and consistent communication with your client, your assistants/models and makeup artists. Pull together as a team and the shoot will run much more smoothly.
A successful photography shoot is about pulling the little details seamlessly together, this makes the photography look effortless. But in my experience it's the preparation work before the shoot that makes the images just happen and keeps the clients happy.
Have you got any killer tips? Add your tips in the comments below and if you like this post feel free to share it with your friends.
Till next time. Happy shooting and good luck.