Preparing for a client photoshoot is like playing a game of chess – you need to think ten steps ahead. This applies whether you are working on a high-end ad photoshoot or a simple client portrait. Photographers need to be prepared to meet all expectations and handle all situations that arise on set. As a photographer, your success is not only determined by how well you deliver results but also by how the client experiences you.
Each Pyx Photography affiliated photographer receives a client brief from our program management team. This brief lists out the client’s expectations, brand guidelines, technical specs, and guidance on how to do the shoot. Preparation up front before a shoot begins is what separates good from great photography.
We’re sharing our top ten tips below on how you can get the most positive impact out of your photoshoots.
Pyx Photography begins each shoot by learning about the client's brand and design guidelines. During this process, we research the kinds of shoots the company has done before, their website, reading materials, etc., to get a better understanding of the company and its brand.
All of this material is incorporated into the photographer's shoot guide and orientation call before the actual shoot. What we’ve found is that it’s better to have too much information about the brand we are shooting than too little.
On any photoshoot, you should have a clear line of communication with all stakeholders. Ask questions preferably before the shoot and get everyone on the same page concerning deliverables, timelines, etc. If (not when) something breaks down during the shoot, make sure you let the client know as soon as possible so that you can figure out an alternative solution.
Our project managers provide coordination between the photographer, models, editors, office team, and the client to ensure that communication does not break down.
Being realistic with shoot timelines and staying organized is one of the most effective ways you can create a great client photoshoot. Don’t overpromise a deadline you can’t make and leave yourself enough buffer room to deal with any issues or unexpected delays. Ensure you have enough time to prepare for the shoot, arrange models, and logistics, help out with post-production (if needed) and share the final photos with your client.
A little extra time to make everything right will ensure that your client is always happy with your work.
Take time to speak with your team (assistants, models, etc) well before the shoot. This will help set proper expectations with everyone and ensure you don’t have last-minute hiccups. When working with strangers/ models, it helps to dialogue before the shoot to break the ice and ensure they feel comfortable on the shoot and with the people they are working with.
If you are shooting outside your studio, take some time to explore the location and note down interesting things that could make your photos pop. Look for brightly, oddly colored walls, murals, old trees, and garden settings.
If you are shooting inside a home, look for artwork or things that can make for interesting backgrounds like blankets and shawls. Different wall colors also add dynamism to photos that can generate interest. Explore the different kinds of natural light available in different rooms to help execute your shoot.
As a photographer, you need to get a lot of small details working to build a larger picture. Small details such as props, clothes, and even fingernails can make or break your shoot. Make sure the hair, nails, and clothing are always clean and manicured. Keep an extra set or two of clothes (without recognizable brands) available on the set, in case you find out the model is wearing clothing from a competing brand!
Make sure you ask for releases from any model or person you are likely to capture in your photoshoot. Not only is this good etiquette, but it’s also a legal requirement to ensure no one’s photos are published without their explicit consent. If the models are being provided by an agency/ client, please confirm with them as to their signed photo releases to ensure there are no challenges for the client later.
At Pyx Photography, we do a thorough shoot technical analysis before conducting the photoshoot. It’s important to look at lighting, preferred camera angles, lenses, table settings, editing, etc to ensure the photographer can create the look the client is looking for. This information is communicated to the photographer in the shoot guide as general guidance to maintain during the shoot.
Whenever possible, try to keep backup clothes, props, batteries, etc during a shoot. Not only will you be better prepared for the shoot, but your team will also appreciate you having their back. Common scenarios where backups help are in replacing dead batteries, corrupt storage devices, cloth changes due to spills or sweat marks, light failures, etc.
If you are in the process of conducting the shoot and feeling lost, ask your project manager or client for support. We always encourage this at Pyx Photography – the client will be much more understanding of you asking for clarification before/ during the shoot than getting photos back later that don’t match with what they wanted.
By asking your project manager or client for support, you’ll only reinforce the relationship you already have and make it stronger.