Many of our clients who come to us for a complete website overhaul often struggle with the same issue – photography. Certain budgetary requirements lend themselves to a stock photography solution. Companies like Getty Images and iStock have extensive libraries that can often save our clients time and money when the imagery does not have to be specific to their product or organization. On the other hand, we have clients where custom photography is crucial to differentiating their business from competitor sites and highlighting their unique products or services.
Planning and organization is a key part of a successful strategy and well-executed shoot. We spent a significant amount of time preparing and planning before a single frame was shot, creating a production list, shoot schedule and mock-ups to guarantee the shoot would run smoothly, so you can keep track of the details as you go along.
We recently undertook a two day custom shoot for MB Sport, whom we’re very proud to work with. Here are some key take-aways from the project….
Getting the Job Done Right
1. Visualize layouts with the client
Clients should supply layouts or visual guidelines in order for you to accurately bid the project. If they do not have specific comps for the shoot, ask them for swipes, tear sheets or sketches. You want to be positive you have the correct location, the correct number of talent in the examples, and that the props are representative of what they prefer you to use.
2. Build a shot list
Identify how many shots the client actually needs, as well as the exact usage. More often than not, since we are structuring the shoot for the website we are designing, we understand required sizes, orientations and placement. We factor in for variations to the shots, wardrobe changes, lighting and camera angle changes. This all helps determine the number of shots, and the number of days it will take to shoot.
3. Confirm the props
Often clients will say they only need a few props and don’t want to hire a prop stylist for budgetary reasons. Creating a comprehensive list of props which are needed makes it clear who will handle them and whether or not you need a prop stylist. We were able to source the required props internally between ourselves and the client, but it definitely added an additional layer of complexity.
4. Establish wardrobe and color palette
Wardrobe and color palette help create a sense of visual consistency. While the budget might not allow for a wardrobe stylist, someone needs to oversee color selection, patterns and outfits to make sure the finished images work with the brand’s visual identity and guidelines.
5. Create a production book and call sheet
A clear production schedule allows the entire crew to know what’s happening during pre-production, on the actual shoot day(s), and during post-production. There is no room in the budget for late starts or delays while people try to figure out what should be happening.
6. Have the right people on the team
We were fortunate enough to be able to have our Creative Director, Katie, onsite both shoot days to collaborate with the photographer and the client to make sure we were maximizing each shot to fit its intended purpose and placement in the new website. Katie was able to quickly identify camera angles, orientation and sizes to help keep our photographer on schedule (and on budget). We captured everything we needed for the website in addition to a few great “bonus” images at the end of the day when we finished early (yes – early).
Organization Keeps You and Your Clients Happy
It takes a great deal of effort to organize a custom photography shoot. Though each project requires different things, each should be approached with the same overall strategy. Keep the communication going, update the client frequently, and notify them of any changes — especially budgetary changes, as they need to be approved before moving forward.
Complete a production book and make sure all your information is correct and kept up to date. Keep your shot list in front of you on set. Most importantly, have the right crew AND enough crew members. The right crew makes any production seamless…or at least they will make it look that way! And with a smooth production and focused shoot comes a happy client!
To see the final result of our photo collaboration, visit mbsport.com.