Friday, August 21, 2015

Essential Tips for Your First Commercial Photo Shoot

Commercial photography can be intimidating if you aren't used to following a rigid schedule and corporate pace. Below are some tips for acing that first big shoot.

The Notebook
Commercial photographers like the pros at Fashot have what's known as a production notebook. This is the place where you're going to store all of the shoot's details, expectations, and requirements for quick and easy reference. Include everything from company logos, to the hourly schedule for shooting days.

Make sure to type it up in a clean format that's easy on the eyes and simple to follow, especially since there's going to be a lot of information. It should be easy to access any data that's important to the flow of the project, so list names and contact information for everyone on your crew, as well as any client contacts. Also be sure to include daily schedules that outline start and end times for the day and any scheduled breaks for lunch, dinner, wardrobe, and travel times.

All of the visual details of the job should be listed here as well, such as colour schemes, props, lighting details, special requests, backgrounds or locations, and reference resources. Make copies of all model releases, property releases, permits, and insurance information, too. Basically, everything and anything related to the shoot should be included and distributed to all involved parties prior to the shoot.

Business Details
The most important thing you need, aside from the skill and confidence necessary to please your client, is a clear understanding of expectations. After all, if you're going to be shooting for the big league, you've got to prepare like it as well.

Before you start putting together the production notebook, you'll need to go through all of its details, often over a period of time that's going to be different with each client. Most importantly, make sure all of the client's requests are reasonable and can be handled. Don't ever think you'll talk them out of an idea once the project starts. Be upfront, tell them what will and won't work with your skill set, and offer valuable alternatives that are in line with their goals for the shoot.

Make sure you get all of your pricing approved and signed off on, too, and make sure you have a solid contract drafted and signed by the correct parties before beginning work. After the shoot is complete, get the client's signature on a statement that confirms you did the work they asked for in a satisfactory manner, and make sure you outline how long it's going to take to get the image proofs and final edited images to them.

Delivery and Follow Up
Once the shoot is completed and everyone's satisfied, it's a matter of making sure that you deliver the edited photos on time. Thank the client for the work and let them know whether or not you're available for more work in the future.

As you get the hang of things, commercial photo shoots will be easier and more exciting, especially since every shoot is different.