Working with social media is almost synonymous with always needing new pictures. As a consultant, you quickly notice that the availability of materials varies tremendously between different customers. Some are provided with global support, others are good at arranging photo shoots themselves, and a third uses stock photos almost exclusively. However, in all those scenarios, situations have arisen where we need a certain type of image that does not exist. That is why we have organized many photographs – and gotten pretty good at it. Here are our top tips regarding what to keep in mind, to do so successfully.
It may seem odd that this is the first point, but let me explain why. Before arranging a photo shoot, it is important to know how you plan to use the photos. On what platforms should the material be published, and when? If you are looking for evergreen content (timeless content), it may not be an idea to shoot outdoors in north of Sweden in December, as the images can only be used for a limited time period if they are to feel current. Although, if you are looking for pictures for your Christmas campaign, the same conditions are perfect.
The point is – before you start planning your photo shoot, make sure you have set an intention for the publishing process.
We rarely write briefs, but before a shoot, it really is a must. A brief ensures that us consultants, our customer and the photographer have the same view of what we want to get out of the photo shoot. We usually start by talking to the customer, and then develop a basis we can use to select a suitable photographer. For example, our latest photo shoot was an internal one, which Annelie did for her own social channels. We hired the photographer, Marilia Bognandi, because she was good at getting her models to relax, which was the expression Annelie was looking for.
So, start with a brief, then hire a photographer based on it. Do not be afraid if the brief is long, because the more thorough it is, the better the photo shoot.
Examples of what is included in a brief may be:
– Where should we be? Do we need to move, or stay in the same place? Do we need to scout a photo location or have our customer or photographer already done so?
– What should be photographed? Products, people, places, or all of those?
– Do we need any models? If so, who is responsible for finding suitable people? What should the model/s wear, and who is responsible for providing the clothes?
– How should the pictures be used?
– Is there anyone we need to contact in advance? For example, contact a café we would like to take shoot in, or ask if we can borrow someone’s home for the shoot.
– Does the customer need or want to be present during the shoot, or do we do it ourselves?
– Do we need to consider specific formats, such as Instagram Stories, banner on a site or similar?
– Do we need any videos?
– Do we prioritize few, high-quality photos, or do we prefer to get as many images as possible?
– What feeling are we looking for? Photo studio, lifestyle, both, or something completely different?
– What kind of budget do we have?
Once we get the answers to these questions, we also get an idea of how time-consuming the photo shoot will be. Based on these parameters, we can find a suitable photographer. It can also be good to include a couple of inspirational images that give both the photographer and the customer a visual sense of what we are looking for. The more distinct, the better!
Photo: Marilia Bognandi
Once you’ve written your brief and found the perfect photographer, it’s time to sign a contract. We usually want to include that we have full rights to the images, to avoid future misunderstandings. Otherwise, it is easy for the images we should use only for one specific channel, to be found by a trainee who thinks they would be perfect as ads for a completely different purpose. We don’t want to end up there!
In contracts, you also of course include the agreed amount, and exactly what it includes. Do you get all the images in raw format, edited, retouched, or do you buy selected images? If editing is an additional expense, how much does it cost? What exactly does editing include? Do you pay hourly rates or per picture? Costs between different photographers can vary enormously, so make sure you know what you are getting and what you are paying for it.
If you are a consultant who does a shoot for a customer, make sure that it is clear between you and the customer who owns the right to the images, and how they can be used.
4. The day of the photoshoot
It’s finally time! The photo shoot is about to happen. This day will, as mentioned, work out a lot better if you have a well thought out brief. If you still did not create one, then now is your chance.
Let’s say you are to arrange a photo shoot for a bakery. By making a schedule, including how the day will play out, you will stay in control throughout the process. The schedule could look something like this:
We all meet up at the bakery. The photographer rigs light etc, while I prepare the bread and style the first look.
Photographing the sourdough bread and rolls against a dark background.
Prepare for photography of pastries by setting up a table with all the bestsellers, as if there was an on-going party.
Photograph the set up table.
The baker is photographed while working, to get lifestyle pictures.
Corporate pictures of the baker indoors.
Corporate pictures of baker outdoors.
Done for the day! Round up and clean up.
Rarely does a schedule go exactly as you intended, but again – the more you plan, the better. You can also ask the photographer to view photos during the shoot, to make sure your expectations are met. It is much better to be able to make adjustments during the day, than to have pictures sent to you that are completely different from what you imagined.
As previously mentioned, your contract should include details regarding editing. If editing is to be included, sample images in the brief that show what feeling you are going for, is a good way to guide the photographer. It is much clearer than you trying to describe in words what kind of editing you are looking for.
Also remember that there is a difference between editing and retouching. One could say that editing affects the whole image, while retouching affects single pixels. For example, editing may be about changing the saturation or color tone of the image, while retouching may be about “blurring” scattered hairs or reflections in glossy surfaces. Make sure all parties are aware of what is expected.
Last but not least – good luck with your photo shoot! Do not hesitate to ask your photographer how you create the best conditions for that particular person. And remember, you learn something from each situation!