How To Get The Pictures You Want From A Photo Commission.

May 03, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

A few tips for getting the most out of your pr, corporate or event photoshoot.

Press-photographerPress-photographerPortrait case study photography of Hanna Yusuf an Alzheimers Society employee at the Cardiff office.
© Roger Donovan, Media Photos
You might think that simply booking a professional photographer should be a guarantee that you will get the pictures you require from your photoshoot. But things can go wrong even with the most seasoned professional on the case and it’s important to do everything you can to ensure that the risk of things going belly up are mitigated. 

Lack of communication is the single biggest reason for problems, followed closely by a  lack of planning. If you are commissioning photography it will help if you have a clear idea of your expectations. What type of image you require and what use you will make of the pictures. Importantly these details must be communicated to the photographer.

Don’t take anything for granted, plan the shoot or event thoroughly and allow time in the schedule for any set up photography. Be sensible about how long the photography will take. The photographer needs time to find the right location, set up lights and pose the group. Don’t create undue pressure by not allocating a reasonable time slot in the schedule. It might be helpful to seek the photographers input on this during the planning process. If props or other specifics are needed for the photography don’t just assume they will all be available on the day. Plan and arrange in advance. 

The more information that can be given to the photographer prior to the event, the better will be their understanding on the day of what is required of them. From a photographers point of view, arriving at an event cold with no understanding of the situation can be a recipe for disaster. Many times I’ve arrived at a shoot with little knowledge of the event or who the participants are and the first question I’m asked is “Where do you want us and what do you want to do?” It’s so tempting to say “I don’t know” but instead I have to dig tentatively to find out who is who and what is what. Not very professional and you’re on the back foot from the start.

I’ve been commissioned many times in the past where the commissioner’s idea of a brief is no more than time and date. Whilst vitally important, a brief should include a lot more. Background to the event, details of participants, contact names, mobile numbers, itinerary, specific requirements, expectations, what use will be made of the images, time scale for delivery, delivery method, rights required.

I think it important to remember that whilst you work for your organisation day in day out and understand how it works and who people are, a photographer commissioned for a single shoot won’t have this depth of knowledge and understanding. The more the photographer understands, the more on board they will be with company thinking, the more they feel part of what is going on, the better the outcome of the shoot. This is a good reason for building a relationship with a photographer and using the same photographer on a regular basis so they feel part of your team and understands your business structure and brand.

A few points to consider when booking photography:

1: Date, time and itinerary. Absolutely necessary it goes without saying but be honest with your photographer, ensure you give a true start time, don’t assume they’ll cut things fine and arrive on the dot and therefore give an earlier start time to ensure they arrive by the actual start time. I’ve had this happen to me on numerous occasions and because I always arrive early have ended up arriving an hour or so before needed.

2: Planning. Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. Include the photographer in this process as they will understand and allow for the photographic requirements of the shoot.

3: Provide an exhaustive brief. Knowledge is king. The more information the photographer has to hand the better their decision making and the better the resulting images will be.

4: Communicate with the photographer at all points in the process. Make them feel involved to mitigate the chances of things going wrong.

5: Build a relationship with the photographer, use the same one regularly, not necessarily to the exclusion of others as it is also good practice to have a couple of strings to your bow, but if the photographer feels part of your team it will show in the service you get.

6: What use is likely to be made of the images? Knowing where the images will be published can assist the photographers decisions on style and composition so that the images can be tailored to the target market.

7: Allow time in the schedule for any set up photography. All too often time for photography is not actually set aside in the itinerary, resulting in trying to squeeze in the photography when no time remains or as everyone is leaving the door. Far better to put time in the schedule so that everyone concerned is aware of when and where the photography will be shot and it’s not just a rushed afterthought.

8: Don’t spring unexpected requests on the photographer last minute. Most photographers don’t carry all their kit in the boot of the car. There’s simply too much so there is a need to know in advance what will be required or risk disappointment. Plan well and communicate with the photographer in advance.

9: Work closely with the photographer on the day of the shoot, assist where you can and observe what is being shot. If you have any specific requirements i.e. personnel, branding, products to be included in shot check that these have been covered. It’s too late when the event is over.

10: Be prepared to change plans, sometimes expectations just can’t be met. Work with the photographer to get the best from a situation.

11: Give the photographer time to work their magic. Even if you think you have the shot in the can sometimes the photographer can see something more in the shot. The photographer is the one with the technical knowledge and creativity, the one who understands the potential in changing lens or viewpoint. Give them chance to do their best and your expectations might be surpassed.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of do's and don'ts as I’m sure individual shoots will have their own issues and requirements that need to be addressed but I will just repeat my mantra of “Plan and Communicate”. If you stick to this advice then the shoot will stand every chance of being successful.

Roger Donovan 

Contact me.

 


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